iRiver P7 review

The P7's great audio quality is let down by a frustrating touchscreen interface and a lack of physical controls.

8 Jul 2009
Our Rating 
2/5
Price when reviewed 
169
inc VAT

The iRiver P7 portable media player has one of the stranger designs we've seen. Its aluminium case has an unpleasant texture, and the edges are square, so it's not the most comfortable device to carry in your pocket.

The 4.3in screen is bright and its interface is split into boxes, each of which performs a different function. There's a box for video files, which displays the most recent video played, and a box for music that shows the album cover for the last song played. A box in the top left displays the time and date. This is certainly a novel idea, but we're not sure it works. The interface doesn't do enough to be useful, and you still have to click through the menus to browse the files in each section. Our biggest frustration was the unresponsive touchscreen. While the interface had us guessing where some functions were hidden - such as the music player's repeat and shuffle modes - the slow touchscreen made us wonder if we'd even tapped the right part of the screen.

To make matters worse, the P7 has few hardware controls. The only buttons are the power switch, volume controls and a single button that returns you to the main menu. This means that to skip or pause a song, you'll have to fish the device out of your pocket and use the touchscreen. Our review version had 8GB of internal memory, but there's a microSDHC card slot for expanding this. A 16GB version is also available for just £20 more.

From a technical point of view, there's much to like about the P7. Music quality was good, although you'll need to use a decent set of headphones rather than the cheap pair that comes with it. Without equalisation, music was a bit flat and the bass was muddy, but the P7 comes with SRS WOW, which you can tune to achieve the right balance for your tastes. Colours in both video and still images were bright and fairly accurate, although there was a distinct grain and flesh tones were dull. You can read text files on the P7 but no other document types.

We have issues with the claimed video format support. With so many variations of codec and container files, it's almost impossible to test them all, but many of our standard test files didn't play. H.264 files worked only if they had a specific Baseline profile. XviD MP4 files played with their video and sound out of synch, and an XviD AVI file caused the device to reboot. No portable media player offers perfect video support, but the P7 had more problems than most.

Superior sound quality gives the P7 an edge over most players and mobile phones, but the interface is fiddly and the touchscreen frustrating. We can't recommend the P7 over the more practically designed Archos 605 WiFi.

Details

Price £169
Rating **

Hardware

Capacity 8.00GB
Formatted capacity 7.59GB
Interface USB 2.0
Storage medium flash memory
Battery and charge options Lithium Polymer, USB
Size 73x112x14mmmm
Weight 175g

Features

Device has screen? Yes
Viewable size 4.3 in
Native resolution 480x272
Memory card support microSDHC
FM Radio yes
Audio record options microphone, radio
Video record options none
Supplied with headphones, USB cable

Test Results

Tested battery life (MP3 playback) 27h 47m
Tested battery life (Video playback) 3h 48m
500MB transfer time 2m 10s
Audio MP3 playback Yes
Audio WMA playback Yes
Audio WMA-DRM playback No
Audio AAC playback No
Audio Protected AAC playback No
Audio OGG playback Yes
Audio WAV playback Yes
Audio Audible playback No
Image BMP support Yes
Image JPEG support Yes
Image TIFF support No
Video MPEG-4 AVI playback Yes
Video MPEG-4 MP4 playback Yes
Video WMV playback Yes
Video MPEG-1 playback Yes
Video MPEG-2 playback Yes
Video MPEG-2 VOB playback No
Video MPEG-4 DivX/XviD support Yes
Video H.264 support Yes
Video MPEG-4 MP3 audio support Yes
Video MPEG-4 AAC audio support No
Download compatibility none

Buying Information

Price per MB 2.1p
Warranty one year RTB
Supplier http://www.advancedmp3players.co.uk
Details www.iriver.com

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