Clix 2 First Impressions

23:01 Sun 19 Aug 2007. Updated: 22:27 01 Sep 2007
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I purchased an iRiver clix 2, the 4 gigabyte model, recently. I wanted a music player with flash-based storage that I could use while running, and also one that could play video (particularly on plane journeys). Naturally, it had to have Ogg Vorbis support, and to be usable as a standard USB storage device.

The clix 2 defaults to being a Windows Media device, but you can switch it into USB Mass Storage mode very easily—although you should do this right away, since doing so removes everything on the device. (This means that you have to re-download the original contents if you didn’t back them up beforehand.)

I did have some trouble getting it up and running, partly because I thought (for no good reason) that I would have to switch it into USB Mass Storage mode via some firmware update, and hence had to get it connected to my machine. My desktop wouldn’t recognize it at all. Then I realized that the connection type is just a menu option on the device itself, and once I put it into the non-proprietary mode, it connected without difficulty.

Its control system is interesting. The entire front face is a kind of panel, and you press down (that is, pushing the surface towards the back of the device) on the left, right, bottom, or top to hit a button. To prevent inadvertent jostling, you can set a switch to turn those controls off. I think it’s reasonable, but I could see someone who’s used to an iPod scroll wheel not liking it so much.

Transferring music wasn’t any problem. I’m not really an audiophile, so the sound through the Sennheiser CX300 earphones I have seems good to me.

Converting video to the format required by the player was quite a hassle. The software that came with it crashed every time I tried to use it. The iRiver MovieConverter, which I downloaded, crashed every time I tried to get it to convert a movie. Version 0.17 of iriverter didn’t work for me. Nor did using the command line instructions I found for creating clix-compatible files with mencoder. Eventually I tried KawaiiRiver, a fork of iriverter, and it successfully ripped the first episode of the second season of Rome into a format the clix 2 can play. It’s rather time-consuming, but that’s not a big problem. The key is that I can effectively use it as a DVD-less portable DVD player.

The screen is just 320×240, and is a mere 2.2 inches with 260,000 colors (which seems like a strange number to me, but I didn’t notice any color problems). It’s an AMOLED screen, and so far I’m quite impressed with the technology. Very bright and clear, and somehow it doesn’t “feel” like an LCD screen. Possibly because it looks good from almost all viewing angles.

The device itself is rather small, 3.16×1.84×0.51 inches. Smaller than I expected, in fact. It weights just under two ounces.

So far, I’m quite impressed, especially considering it cost under $200.

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