Monday, November the 28th, 2005

Remember this?

I’ve owned one for a few months now, and here are some terse thoughts.

I really like it, and for the most part it performs as advertised. The playback is stellar, the file support is arguably perfect and the recorder works like a charm. It even goes well with my Sennheisers. A little power and impedance matching <Shatner> before you buy</Shatner> can go a long way. And oh, the advertised battery life of 35 hours is not a lie (at least while sticking to music), who’d have thought?

Now, onto the negatives.

» FLAC encoding-decoding is a very assymetrically loaded process. It takes ages to re-encode my discs to FLAC, and it really doesn’t even get all that small, though playback is acceptable (as in acceptably awesome).

» The radio only picks up FM (or AM, I don’t recall), and there aren’t too many channels on FM (or AM). At least in this little town.

» I’ve managed to lock it up a few times, on average, once a month. But I can’t reliably repeat it, so don’t know what is going on nor can I file a bug report. Having stability issues in relatively simplistic hardware is not acceptable. Come on, it’s not like this is an XBox 360 with numerous cores.

» Video playback is something I never thought I would use, but it’s a cool thing to have for a long bus ride back home late at night. I watch episodes of Birdman, Rocketboom and other short shows. The point being, you really can’t stare at the teeny screen for too long at 15 FPS or whatever.

Which means no DVD ripping is advised. But getting mencoder to create videos playable by it works like a charm.

» The much famed camera (EOS 20D) to X5 connector doesn’t work, even after a couple of firmware upgrades. Which means, I can’t count on having an extra 30 odd gig hard disk on hand when my couple of gigs of flash memory in the camera run out.

Which they do.

» The interface is a little clunky at first, but it is a breeze to work with the nipple button once you get used to it. Plus you don’t have to stare at the screen when you’re changing something, you can have it hooked to your belt or in your pocket, and once you’ve figured the “key-stroke combos”, you can easily change playback settings and what not.

So this really isn’t a negative, except that it can put you off initially.

Update: While we’re on the topic of music, check out Pandora (requires Flash), an intelligent radio station generator, part of the Music Genome Project. You feed it what you like and it figures out from its insanely huge taxonomy database as to what to playback to you.

This is a printer-friendly version of the journal entry “The Iaudio X5L: A Review” from actuality.log. Visit to read the original entry and follow any responses to it.

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