Product review as it were

Uncle Sugar owed me a few $$$ since my last TDY and I've been lusting in my heart for a hard-drive based MP3 player for some time. It was fate---kismet . . . .

The iRiver IHP120 was available at a nearby Best Buy (Aurora at Mississippi and Abilene), and the good Geek behind the counter saw me salivating over the display model and discreetly told me of an open-box special. The previous owner had graciously charged it up for me and left me with a few audio files of him muttering "hudda budda" into the microphone for many seconds, and depreciated ten percent from their list price. Done deal.

Now that I've figured out how to get this device to shuffle-play among multiple albums, I can fall asleep to more than one artist. The device has both line-in and microphone inputs (microphone included) so I can import files or record in analog from all of the valuable vinyl albums I still have. I would have bought the iPod but the iRiver has encoding on-board and supports all audio formats I know of so far.

The drawbacks arise from the user interface. I have used only the Rio R30S before this so I am not the conclusive expert on MP3 player user interfaces, but maybe the clumsy user interface is the reason the previous owner turned this thing back in and I got the open-box discount.

So badly Palm needs to license their OS and interface to these devices.

Overall 3 out of five stars, 4-plus of 5 for value for the money, 1 of 5 for user interface, 4 of 5 for feature-to-weight ratio. It's scarcely more discommodating than the 64MB Rio.

For a ride on a C-130, you need noise-cancelling headphones. I'll be using the IHP120 as a USB hard drive too, loading it up with NIMA map files (CADRG, DTED, ArcView).

Warning: read the fscking manual on how to load it with music and navigate the drive. Before you plug it in, I mean.

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