There's a palpable level of excitement in the office today, and there's only one reason: we've got our hands on a fully working iRiver Spinn in its ready-for-sale state, and man are we excited. This is one of the most hotly anticipated MP3 players of the year, and has been since the world got its first glimpse of a dummy model back in January.
Rather than only giving the unbelievably crisp 84mm AMOLED screen superb touch-sensitive navigation, iRiver has innovated a new type of input method in the form of a mechanical scroll wheel in the top-right corner. Spinning this -- hence the name -- scrolls through menu items, both horizontally and vertically depending on the menu you're in, and can be clicked down to select.
It works well, although at times it's a little touch sensitive, and it takes a short while to get used to. We actually found that we did half our navigation with the wheel, and half with our finger on the touch-screen.
And never have we seen a screen so crisp and so bright. Images are stunning; videos are smooth and sharp. In fact, in the video menus, moving thumbnails are used to illustrate listed videos, and there's enough detail given by the screen to make this look damn impressive.
The slick menu system is plain but effective, and complements the analogue scroll wheel with what appears to be an interface similar to the dials on an analogue radio tuner. Did we mention it rumbles like a phone? Clicking back through menus, for example, causes the Spinn to gently vibrate. Pointless, yes. Awesome, totally.
Awesome too is sound quality. The Spinn supports MP3, FLAC, WAV, WMA, APE, ASF formats according to the box, but we found it also plays WMA Lossless. We played a range of FLAC and WAV tracks through our Denon AH-D5000 reference headphones, and heard an extremely clear sound, with a notably high volume level.
In an interesting move, Adobe Flash games are supported. Files must be in SWF format and seem to be limited to 1MB as a maximum file size. Out of our 20 most addictive Flash games ever made, we only got Chimgam to play, but it did at least play really well -- just like it does on a PC. Sadly, YouTube videos won't work, no matter how large or small.
The Spinn comes with 4GB, 8GB or 16GB of internal capacity. 16GB is pretty good for a player that supports so many lossless audio formats, and we're told iRiver is being pressured to bump the capacity to 32GB, although the demand for this much memory in Korea -- iRiver's home -- isn't high.
There are some downsides, however. First and foremost, the Spinn's not expandable. We would have loved to see microSD support. AAC files aren't compatible. One or two guys here in the office found the mechanical scroll wheel a little awkward to use unless you hold the player with a certain grip. It's not a deal-breaker, but opinion on the usability of the wheel is, at the moment at least, somewhat divided here at Crave.
But overall, we're loving the Spinn -- it's well worth the excitement. We're going to have a full review for you as soon as we've tested the player to death and translated our findings from brainwaves to letters. For now, what do you want to know? Tell us in the Spinn's official forum thread, where we'll answer as much as we possibly can.
Until then, enjoy our collection of unboxing, hands-on, comparison and in-menu photos over the next few pages, and all being well you'll be as excited about it as we are. It'll be available to buy in the UK from Advanced MP3 Players.
Update: There has been a bit of confusion from readers concerning the 16GB model. Just to confirm, a 16GB model will be available, but it will follow shortly after the initial launch of the 4GB and 8GB versions. iRiver won't be publishing this news yet, but you can rest assured 16GB is on the horizon. We hope this clears up any confusion.
Update 2: Our good friends at Advanced MP3 Players tell us the store will be stocking the 8GB model for £149. Keep your eyes peeled for availability. -Nate Lanxon
Update 3: Read our full iRiver Spinn review here.