"iPod" has become a generic name for all portable music devices — just like Walkman was a generation ago. When people lust after a music player, they rarely say they want to buy a MP3 player or say they want something to hold their WMA, OGG or WAV files. They usually just go out and buy an iPod.
But there are a brave few people who search out and devices that won’t use Apple’s AAC compression or the iTunes Music Store.
If you’re in that camp, I’ve been testing a terrific little player you should know about. iRiver calls it the clix.
The clix is a tiny 2GB flash media device. It measures just 2.7 inches tall by 1.8 inches wide and is just a little over a half-inch thick. And at 2.5 ounces it weighs less than a ham sandwich on low-carb bread.
I call it a media device rather than a music player because in addition music, clix also handles video, pictures and FM radio stations. Clix has a built-in microphone, an alarm clock and a bunch of built-in games with names like Barn Baron, Critter Crossing, Log Jam and Sudoku.
Working the clix is a snap. Instead of buttons to change functions and/or song titles, it’s an ingenious design where the screen doubles as the navigation buttons.
The clix comes with its own USB 2.0 cable and interfaces with PCs running Windows XP. A separate AC adapter is optional. The batteries reportedly last up to 25 hours per charge. Mileage varies depending on whether you’re using clix for music, video, or games.
The screen itself is terrific (2.2 inches measured diagonally) and videos presented in a “wide screen” mode and are quite viewable. Pictures look very good when I asked clix to present them in a slide show.
The FM radio was able to receive all of my favorite local radio stations. They all sounded fine through the cheap earphones that come with the device.
I was able to squeeze nearly 200 songs onto my clix. I chose to rip music into 96Kbps WMA files. Your choices are MP3, WMA and OGG files. Compared to a lot of other compressed formats and speeds I thought WMA/96 would be an acceptable compromise between sound quality and storage space. I also listened to larger WMA/320 and OGG/Q10 ripped files. They were the best-sounding choices offered on the clix.
As for multimedia support, the clix can handle MPEG4 simple profile QVGA (15fps), Macromedia Flash Player, TXT, and non-progressive JPEG files.
The clix is a terrific little portable media device with a well conceived design. It’s easy to learn, easy to use and delivers what it promises. It should be noted that it works with some subscription and pay-per-song subscription services.
The headphones that come with the clix sound OK — but nothing to brag about. The clix carries a competitive suggested retail price of $199.99, so how much do you think they spend on those little earbuds? As with every other portable music player on the market you should think about upgrading to a better set of of headphones.