The beautiful, fashion-conscious iRiver Spinn is an upscale media player that combines elegance, style, and sheer sexiness.
But the iRiver Spinn also has quite a bit of substance lurking beneath all that style - if you can get past the sometimes less than intuitive controls and the high price.
A monument to slick minimalism, the iRiver Spinn is a clean, beautifully designed magnesium-shelled multimedia device. About half the size of a deck of playing cards, it feels solid but isn't too heavy. Its good looks are enhanced by a stunning, 3.3in-diagonal AMOLED (Active Matrix Organic Light-Emitting Diode) touchscreen, which displays more than 260,000 colours and induces awe in all mortals who witness its splendour.
In other words, the iRiver Spinn is one hot-looking device. But with a price tag of £133 for the 4GB model and £155 for the 8GB model, the Spinn imposes an extreme premium for its looks and its stunning screen - especially compared to the 32GB Creative Zen X-Fi, the 16GB second-generation Apple iPod Touch, and the 8GB fourth-generation 4G iPod nano.
The iRiver Spinn doesn't rely entirely on its touchscreen. You can do some menu navigating with a spinning cylindrical knob, which occupies the top right corner of the gadget and ends flush with the top side of the device.
A lock switch, a menu-back button, and a microphone for the iRiver Spinn's voice recorder are all situated on the top of the unit, while the power button and a volume rocker occupy its left side. The USB port (which is used for charging and for loading media) is on the bottom left side of the device, and the headphone jack is on the bottom right. Controls are easily accessible once you know where they are, and the touchscreen is surprisingly smudge-resistant, too.
The array of input options is nice in some ways; we especially like being able to use the iRiver Spinn's spinner to scroll through lengthy song menus. Unfortunately, knowing which input method to use at which time can be challenging. For instance, sometimes the touchscreen is enabled and sometimes it isn't.
Navigating backward in the menus may be activated in either of two ways: via a touchscreen Back button crammed into the top-right corner (where it is hard to press successfully), or via a physical button on the top of the device. You'll need to use the lock switch, too: accidentally brushing against the spinner while you're listening to a song will result in unintended track-skipping.
All in all, the navigation would benefit from being a bit more intuitive; it might even be improved if the spinner were the only input device.
Despite its buttons and knobs, the iRiver Spinn may be the cleanest, sleekest-looking player on the market. Viewed head-on, it resembles an all-silver, slightly smaller version of the Apple iPhone, minus the home button. In both devices, the screen dominates the front of the case. But if anything, the Spinn refines Apple's celebrated design.
NEXT PAGE: playback experience