Review of iRiver H300 Series

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Summary: excellent sound reproduction, plus recording, and text and image display, but may no longer be in production.

A friend of the reviewer is a singer and records herself practicing and in performance (for her own private use for the purpose of improvement). She researched a variety of recording solutions and chose the iRiver H-320 player. Her experience is that an external microphone, as recommended by the owner's manual, produces a far superior recording. The reviewer purchased an H-340 model because he also wanted to record, but for different reasons. The model numbers indicate the size of the hard-disk drive, 20 and 40 Gigabytes, respectively.

Recording

The 300 series has two recording modes, music and speech, which both record directly to MP3 format. Within each, you can select the recording bit rate. With an external mic the range is 40 Kbps to 320 Kbps, but 40 Kbps to 128 Kbps for the internal mic. The sample frequency is fixed at the CD standard of 44,100 Hz.

In addition, the 300 series players can display images and e-text. It's not known if one can display text while also recording, which might work very well for !LibriVox volunteers to record audio books. Furthermore, certain versions released outside the United States can also play video; and users report success in adding video capability to units sold in the USA by installing firmware from iRiver Web sites aimed at the owners of those versions which were sold with the video firmware.

It is believed that neither of the two 300 series models is now being made, but the H-340 was in production longer. However, both are still listed on the iRiver Web site. And you still may be able to find new them on-line (as of 2006 February).

A common opinion of folks who've owned both iRivers and iPods is that the iRiver has superior sound reproduction.

The big drawback of the 300 series is the user interface is pretty clunky. This has been improved in current models.

For more about iRiver players, including current models, see also the "MisticRiver :: For iriver Enthusiasts" forums