The Null Device

iRiver firmware 1.28

The first MP3 player I owned was an Archos Jukebox Recorder. This was a relatively bulky unit consisting of a low-power CPU, monochrome bitmap display and notebook hard drive (20Gb, though it was easy enough to open it up and swap the hard disk for a larger one, at least until Archos started soldering their hard drives into cages of circuit boards).

Just under a year ago, I bought an iRiver H340; this is a smaller unit, with a more powerful CPU (Motorola ColdFire; it's powerful enough to decode MP3 and OGG in software, and someone has gotten an iRiver emulating a GameBoy), a colour display, two USB ports (device and host), and based around a smaller (1.8", i.e., iPod-sized) hard drive. Like the Archos, it could record to MP3, from a (crap) built-in microphone or line in (I think it even has a microphone preamp built in, unlike the Archos). However, it seemed to have one crucial missing feature: no real-time clock.

Why is that such a big problem, you ask? Well, when you suddenly record something on the go, how will you know what it is that you recorded later on? The files it makes are named VOICE001.MP3, VOICE002.MP3 and so on, which doesn't say much. There is no keypad, touch screen or other data-entry method to give them names either. Of course, if the device has a real-time clock, you can look at the timestamp of the file to see when it was recorded, but with no such clock, all files created get an arbitrary creation time such as midnight on 1/1/2002, so you're left guessing.

Mind you, now it emerges that the H340 hardware does have a real-time clock, just that the firmware didn't use it. I just found out the most recent firmware upgrade adds a clock function, displaying the current time, and adding sensible timestamps to any files recorded. Which makes the iRiver slightly more useful for things other than listening to music.

(Of course, the firmware is still annoyingly clunky when it comes to doing some things; though now that it is confirmed that there is a clock inside the unit, Rockbox can make use of it when it is ported to it.)

There are 8 comments on "iRiver firmware 1.28":

Posted by: Graham Fri May 6 14:55:53 2005

Oh that's better. I had mine upgraded to 1.27 a couple of months back and got an AVI to work on it just so I could say to iPod users "hey, is that an iPod? Can it do THIS?" but aside from that the video playback thingy is kind of pointless since it can't hack anything more than 10fps.

Posted by: acb Fri May 6 15:16:47 2005

So, has the white earphone epidemic spread as far as Albury then?

Posted by: Graham Sat May 7 05:54:03 2005

Very much so. Given that you can buy the damn things at Target and K-Mart...

Posted by: steff Sun May 8 02:07:23 2005

At least it plays .ogg (.flac, too?) - my creative zen 30GB doesn't, and I wonder if a firmware upgrade can/could fix that issue in the future ?

Posted by: acb Sun May 8 12:47:42 2005

No .flac, though when they get Rockbox ported to the iRiver hardware, that could well do so.

Posted by: Green Yamo http:// Thu May 12 05:03:14 2005

have you had much success recording live music with the H340? If so, what mic/setup do you use?

Posted by: acb Thu May 12 08:51:54 2005

Haven't tried yet; though I have had success with the Archos Jukebox Recorder, using one of those Sony stereo microphones and a battery-operated preamp. I believe the iRiver has a built-in mic preamp.

Posted by: Graham Thu May 12 13:48:04 2005

Yeah, I've done a little bit of fiddling around mine to record piano stuff, I think you can ramp the bitrate way up to 320kbps. It'd probably go OK with a decent microphone. But work out how to get it going before you record anything 'critical' with it.

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