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the I-River SlimX imp 350

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This is one fine piece of work, and unfortunately very difficult to come by except through the Korean company themselves, but it’s worth the effort if you’re interested in quality.

What exactly is it? It’s an mp3 CD player, you know… one of those portable (this one is particularly tiny.. 13 mm thick or somesuch and barely larger than the CDs you put in it) units that play both your music CDs or your data CDs crammed with 700 megabytes of mp3s (usually 11 albums or so, depending on how long of course). I usually go for the latter.

Now I’m doing this review as a sort of memorial, because my imp-350 completely died and is unsalvageable. But I won’t be bitching and whining and giving it one star. I had it for over 2 years and in that time it served me pretty dern well. It was probably one of my most-prized, most-used possessions during that time (I’m a real music junkie). As a result of this situation, I won’t bother too much with the technical specs because if you’re interested those are easy to find elsewhere (check out IGN’s review for some extensive glowing praise of the unit’s functionality). Rather, I will use my position of wisdom to talk about the stuff you don’t get to know if you only have the thing for a week.

Let’s start with the problems. The batteries last absurdly short when you’re listening to audio CDs so I basically never did unless I had the adapter. Every now and then it gets a silly little error and you think you’ve broke it, but it usually recovers in not too long. At one point my remote (the only real way to control the thing) stopped working, or started working less on a downward trip to complete nonfunctionality. So I had to order another one from the company… 35 bucks (USD) for the remote, plust 30 bucks for shipping.. Eek! By the end of the road the rechargeable niMH batteries had really lost their sting and it would randomly shut off because it thought they were dead even after very recent recharginh. The “16 minutes of skip-free playback” (which was never really quite true) had transformed into 0 minutes of skip free playback on a bad day–better try and make sure the thing’s level. I was about to shell out exorbitant shipping fees to get some replacement batteries, thinking that would make things better, but I’m sure glad I didn’t get around to that, because then the motor just stopped working completely. I dunno if someone kicked it, or if it just died, but the unit is pretty dead and useless now. Though I can still listend to the radio no problem, so that’s something at least.

So it definitely caused a few headaches before that final heartcrusher, but for some reason in my stubborn insistence on keeping my 50 burned CDs of mp3s useful, I intend to buy a newer version of the same model from I-river. And yes there is a reason for that.

Granted, I haven’t tried many other players of this sort, but I’ve looked at reviews of ‘em and heard from friends trying to get a good cdmp3 player and I have concluded that slimx cannot be beat in terms of features and design. Two years is a pretty long time for something like this to last, so I’ve no major qualms about it finally letting go for good. And the features… oh lord the features. This thing is just designed so impeccably.. you can control which (of about 25) modes of play it will cycle through when you press the mode button, preset radio stations, customized EQ settings, balance, beep volume, fast scan speed, it goes on.. basically any annoying behaviour it might be exhibiting, odds are you can change it. And there’s even a little game on the thing to keep you vaguely amused during long, boring bus-rides (playing it really makes time fly).

If you’re not picky about customization, you don’t really know what exactly an mp3 cd is or how to make one, and you haven’t bothered changing the annoying features and display habits of windows on your PC.. this unit (and its family.. of which this is now one of the oldest) is probably not for you. You’d be better off with a simpler, cheaper one. But if you’re a customization junkie, and you like your electronics to behave in an intuitive manner and you have the money to spare… definitely go I-river.

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