iAudio F1

Update: Due to a misconfiguration some of my blog entries from the month of Feburary recently lost. This is merely a repost of the original content.


iAudio F1

Rating: 4 out 5

I got an iAudo F1
for Christmas and I am very pleased. It has all the features I want in
a digital audio player, it is small, it plays Vorbis (OGG) natively, it
plays MP3 natively and it is compatiable with Linux. As it turns out
the iAudio series are about the only players on the market that have
all these features, which is a little sad, but you only need one choice
if it is a good one.

Linux Compatiability

The F1 works perfectly on linux. Just plug it in and mount it like any other USB flash driveIt is a vfat filesystem which Ubuntu mounts automatically by default. and then use move, copy and delete files from it just like you would
any other drive on your system. I have no idea why all USB digital
music players don’t support this interface, it cannot be that hard to
implement.

Sound Quality

The F1 supports a variety of formats (MP3, WMA, OGG, ASF and WAV to be exact). I have only tried OGG and MP3So
far this is only been used for two podcasts. BTW, if you know of any
good technical podcasts let me know. I am not quite sure how one finds
good podcasts. With blogs I use the links from blogs I already read to
grow my reading list but with podcasts it does not seem to work the
same way.
but they both sound quite good to my ear. The OGG playback on the F1 is notably better than the playback I get from my laptop.

The F1 has a significant set of audio effect it can apply.
Everything from boosting base tones to adding missing harmonics. The
all seem to do approximately what is claimed. The only effect I have
had trouble with is the “BBE” effect, which is suppose to make the
music sound “more vivid”. When it is turned on, and it is on by
default, it completely jacks up any repeating high pitched sound, like
cymbals. That is not a big deal, it just took me a little while to
figure out which effect was causing the problem.

Style and Usability

The F1 has a very nice OLED screen with interesting analog dials to
display where in the track you are and the volume of each channel. The
gauge displays are very easy to understand and and a bit unusual, which
is nice. The stuff below the analog parts of the display is fairly
small and hard to read except in near optimal situations. However, I
rarely find that I care about that information so it does not really
bother me.

The overall shape of the F1 makes it comfortable to hold and
operate. It is about the size of a pack of Trident gum, only a little
thicker at one end. The only issue I have with the physical design is
that your hand covers the screen if you try to operate the F1 with only
one hand, but that probably comes with the territory for players this
small. You can easily hold the player with one hand and operate the
joystick with the other, which allows easy viewing of the screen.

The buttons don’t all work exactly like I think they shouldFor example, I think the play button should play all the contents of the selected folder but it navigate into the folder. but over all the user interface is quite usable.

USB Plug

The only other downside to the F1 is the USB plug. The USB plug is
actually a separate adapter. The F1 has two jacks on it, one for
headphones and one for the USB adapter. However both jacks are
identical in size. The manual stats that you should “never insert the
USB adapter into the headphone jack”. I am not sure what would happen
if you plugged the USB adapter into the headphone jack and into a
computer but I suspect that would not be pretty. The fact that the USB
and headphone jacks are the same size strikes me as an accident waiting
to happen. In addition, it is inconvenient to have to carry two things
around rather than just one. But so far I have had no real problems.

Conclusion

Overall I think the iAudio F1 is a great little
digital audio player. It looks and sounds good and has a great feature
set. It has a few problems but none of those problems are huge or
detract significantly from the daily enjoyment I get from this player.

Review by
Peter Williams,
February 2006