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iRock! 860 MP3 Player iRock! 860 MP3 Player: We take a look at iRock's latest solid state MP3 player, which is not only tiny, but it is also armed with 256MB of storage.
Date: January 12, 2003
Manufacturer:
Written By:
Price:

Music on the move is commonplace for many folks, with 'Walkman' style players taking off in the cassette days. Fast forward a few years and the cassette has been replaced by the CD, which in turn is being supplemented by digital media such as MP3 and WMA. The main beauty of these formats is that size wise they can be about a 1/8th the size of a CD track yet still maintain the same quality. The other thing that has become a bigger business lately is flash media. Combine the two and you have a Solid State music player. With no need for tapes, CD's or the like, the players themselves can be very small, usually not much bigger than the battery to power them yet still hold a few hours worth of music. This brings us to the item of review, the player that is iRock's latest Solid State player. The iRock 860 has 256mb of non-expandable memory so enough for a few albums. Let's check it out.

Features

• Skip-free playback of MP3 and WMA files
• High-quality stereo FM tuner with 20 presets
• 256MB** of built-in memory (none expandable)
• Up to 30 hours of continuous playback with one AA battery
• Displays ID3 Tag Artist/Title/Album information
• M3U Playlist and folder support
• Firmware Upgradeable
• Blue EL backlit LCD display with selectable contrast
• (5) Preset Equalizer Modes: Flat, Rock, Pop, Jazz, Classical
• (4) Playback Modes: Normal, Repeat 1, Repeat All, Random Sleep-Timer
• High-speed downloading via USB
• MP3i Creator™ software for making interactive MP3s
• MUSICMATCH® Jukebox software
• Moodlogic™ software for creating custom mixes based on your mood
• Compatible with iTunes™ Jukebox software for MAC

Specifications

• Size: 2.95" x 1.75" x 0.58" (75mm x 45mm x 15mm)
• Memory: 256MB** (860) (none expandable)
• MP3 Bit rates supported: 8Kbps~320Kbps
• WMA™ Bit rates supported: 5Kbps~192Kbps
• FM Frequency Range: 87MHz~108MHz
• Stereo Gain Differential: <0.5dB
• Display: Graphic LCD
• Power Supply: 1 AA battery
• Battery Life: 30 hours typical
• Signal to Noise Ratio: 90 dB
• Total Harmonic Distortion: <0.25%
• Maximum Output: 5mW
• Audio Connector: 3.5mm headphone jack
• Frequency Range: 20Hz~20KHz

** Accessible capacity may be less (247.39mb total storage – ED)

Requirements

• USB port
• CD ROM 4x or Faster
• Internet Access (recommended)
• PC: Pentium® II or higher (AMD equivalent): Microsoft® Win98/98SE/ME/2000 PRO/XP HOME/XP PRO
• 32MB Available RAM
• 50MB Available hard drive capacity (recommended)
• MACINTOSH®: OS X

The iRock 860 comes in a round clear carton that displays all the information and the items included. Whilst I'm not personally a fan of this type of packaging (I hate the inferiority complex I get when I can't get into them) the packaging information is laid out well and shows pretty much all the info you need to know at a glance.

Inside is a variety of bags, books and a CD to complete the overall package. iRock even go so far as to include a leather carry case as well as a neck strap. The included 'Earbud' style headphones are of a surprisingly high quality and give out one of the best sounds I have personally heard from earbud headphones (more on the sound later).

Moving on to the main unit itself, we can see that it isn't much bigger than a matchbox and just as thin. There is only one control on this side and that is our Play/Pause button which also doubles up as the power button. Also on this front side we can see the display.

The rear is pretty much uneventful but this is the area in which you install a battery. Due to the small size of the unit, it would have been nice to have a battery pull strap to aid in the removal of the batteries as it can be a bit fiddly for the fingers.

On the top we find (from left to right) the hoop to connect your neck strap, the headphone socket and the A-B repeat button. At the bottom is the tiny USB1.1 jack.

The main controls sit on the right side and are (from left to right) EQ/FM Presets button, the Volume + and – buttons and finally the fast forward/mode/fast rewind rocker switch. Opposite this side we find up near the strap hoop a singular sliding switch labeled HOLD which will prevent accidental usage of the other buttons when on the move.

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