We opened our toys early so that we could play with the iRiver H320 and H340. Why not the iPod, you ask? The iPod doesn’t support Ogg Vorbis, which knocks it out of contention. I won’t use proprietary codecs.
The H340 and H320 present themselves as USB mass storage devices. Thus, no special software is needed. When I plug my H340 into a USB port, GNOME puts an icon for it on my desktop. Dragging music files onto the icon copies them to the H340’s drive. Or, I can use rsync, cp, or any other standard command line file utilities. A one-line rsync command will sync the H340 with the main music archive on my file server. Very nice.
Both devices include a quite good FM tuner and allow recording from the tuner directly into MP3 format. The same goes for the line-in and the internal microphone. The color screen can display pictures and video. Video isn’t possible on the American versions unless you install the international firmware. International versions also support USBOTG. An upgrade to the American firmware is due early next year and is rumored to contain video playback and perhaps USBOTG.
The controls and UI aren’t in league with the iPod, but they are serviceable. As for form factor, the iRivers are a bit larger than the iPod but also do more.
Overall, I’m really pleased with the H320 and H340. Ogg Vorbis playback, upgradeable firmware, lithium polymer batteries, an FM tuner, recording capabilities, and USB mass storage support for all file types make for a full-featured and convincing player. It works on my Fedora Core 3 desktop without having to install or configure a single thing. Connect to USB. Drag and drop music. Done.