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iriver B20 (2GB) review

Great performance package, and innovative idea, but doesn't quite make the grade Tested at £100.00

Our Verdict

A sterling effort to bring something new to the MP3 table, but not quite the all-rounder we were hoping for

For

  • Unique and sensible control system
  • detailed music playback
  • bright, smooth video replay

Against

  • Ridiculous DAB antenna
  • MP3s could sound more weighty

We're always ones to recognise innovation, and gadgets that tread their own path deserve applause. So it's not surprising the new iRiver B20 – which eschews both the touchscreen and the clickwheel in favour of something all its own – immediately piqued our interest.

Unlike the majority of multimedia players, which are operated by means of buttons and/or one of the two aforementioned control methods, the B20's menus are navigated by pushing down on one of the four edges of the front panel, each edge corresponding to an obvious direction. In practice, it takes a little getting used to, but proves to be entirely intuitive before long.

Built-in DAB radio
The other less-than-common feature here is the built-in DAB radio. However, in order to get reception you need to extend the aerial, which is of the distinctly old-fashioned and pocket-unfriendly telescopic variety. Expect “is that a DAB radio in your pocket, or are you just pleased to see me?”-style comments from your friends.

Even with the antenna extended, we found reception to be patchy, so this isn't quite DAB on the move. The good news, though, is that music and video playback are very good. MP3s are detailed, if a tad thin, and videos are bright and punchy, so providing DAB isn't your priority, the B20 offers a unique alternative to the nano and clones.

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