The premier arm of iRiver has released an entry-level hi-res audio player that supports a staggering amount of audio formats, albeit with a skinny feature set. Jr’s bigger brothers are impressive, so there’s a lot riding on the smallest A&K.
If we could judge this player by looks alone it’d get five shiny, refined stars. While the case’s corners are a little pointy, this slab of aluminium and glass embarrasses other designer-tech thanks to its simplicity and beauty.
There’s a lot of merit in physical controls, and both the buttons and volume dial are easy to find and use — clicking and rolling actual buttons after touch screen controls feels remarkably satisfying. The volume dial is lovely, and provides a long, smooth transition from dead silence up to an imposing decibel level.
Sound quality is spectacular, and you can throw a massive variety of audio files at the Jr. If you’re going to take advantage of hi-res audio you’ll need headphones that are geared up for the task, else the gains from this hardware compared to a major smartphone manufacturer will be minimal.
64GB of storage is built in, with a microSD expansion slot that’ll let you add another 64GB — lots of space for monstrous 40MB-plus lossless files.
Here comes the but. The touchscreen and UI are infuriatingly slow, enough to ruin the experience. ‘Functional’ would put it kindly, in the same way a shopping trolley is a functional mode of transport.
And, there’s something funky happening in the firmware, as trying to skip backwards to previous songs is trial and error — most of the time the song will just restart, over and over.
The Jr will suit if you’re busting for a portable hi-res player, but it comes with some infuriating compromises.
From: BusiSoft AV