Thanks to a rather lush 4.3–inch screen and an Apple–like aluminium frame, the iRiver P7 looks and sounds just like the kind of PMP to give the iPod touch a shoeing. But once you’ve get all het up over its top–end innards, be prepared to for a mighty let down when you kick the P7 into gear. It’s more sluggish than a milkfloat and there are software niggles galore.
There’s no doubting, though, that the iRiver P7 offers a truly unique take on the PMP. Instead of interfaces which all try to merciless ape Apple’s winning style, the the 16GB P7 instead goes for a ‘magazine’ menu system. To you, that means all of its functions, be it music, video or photos, are all plonked in separate boxes on a sleek–looking homescreen. It’s no slouch in the looks department, that’s for sure.
The same can be said when it comes to sound and support. Sound quality is top notch and formats supported include FLAC, OGG, MP3, WMA and WAV audio, AVI, MP4, DAT, MPG, WMV, RM/RMVB, 3GP, K3G and FLV. Phew, that’s a lot: although the eagle–eyed amongst you will notice AAC isn’t present. The iRiver P7 isn’t lacking in the battery stakes though, offering an iPod and Sony Walkman–destroying 35 hours of playback.
But sadly, that’s where the good times end with the P7. That aforementioned sluggishness is all you’ll notice once you fire it up and get past that snazzy homescreen. Playback is slow and it’s incredibly confusing just to whip the thing into shape and get it to play nice. Navigating around pics and tunes will leave you desperate for another UI, any UI, to make things easier. And then there’s the PC software, itself incredibly buggy and unable to deal with the basics. Add to that a complete lack of Wi–Fi and no accelerometer and you’re looking at a device more hamstrung than Freddie Flintoff’s creaking legs.
There’s no denying that the iRiver P7 looks the part. But unless a huge firmware upgrade is planned, this one is for hardcore fans and style junkies only.