iRiver iMP-400 SlimX Review

The SlimX 400 is not only one of the best CD players on the market, but it is also better than most stand alone MP3 players.
The SlimX 400 is not only one of the best CD players on the market, but it is also better than most stand alone MP3 players.
The SlimX 400 is not only one of the best CD players on the market, but it is also better than most stand alone MP3 players.

Highs

  • Loaded with features
  • great design

Lows

  • Average headphones

DT Editors' Rating

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Summary

The iRiver SlimX 400 fills in the MP3/CD player niche perfectly. For those wanting a little more out of their MP3 player or portable CD player, the SlimX 400 will be a great match. For those wanting features of an MP3 jukebox player complete with categorized albums and play list support without shelling out hundreds of dollars, the SlimX 400 is also a great fit. Remember, most people burn MP3’s versus ripping MP3’s from a music CD. A 700 MB CD is still a lot of storage capacity and at $199 the SlimX 400 is a great value for everything that is included. The iRiver SlimX 400 CD player is as polished as a portable CD player can get, and it is clear that a lot of research and development went into the creation of the SlimX 400 as it could possibly be the best portable CD player currently on the market.

Introduction

With the introduction of larger capacity MP3 players and MP3 jukeboxes, you would think that portable CD players are going the way of the tape cassette. iRiver’s new SlimX 400 CD player proves that not only is there longevity in the CD, but there are countless ways to improve on the already reliable format. The iRiver SlimX 400 is not only one of the best portable CD players on the market, but it is also better than most stand alone MP3 players.

Features

We all know that most computer DVD and CD players currently available have the capability to read MP3’s from CD-R and CD-RW formats. The portable CD player market on the other hand has been somewhat slow to adopt this trend. With most players you can usually read one format but not the other, and you often have to be careful about what brand of recordable media you use as well to avoid in compatibilities. The SlimX 400 feels like a computer DVD/CD player in the sense that it can natively read both CD-R/RW media formats as well as multiple brands of recordable CD’s without any hitches.

Not only can it play regular and recordable CD’s but it can also play ASF/WMA and MP3’s formats both as standalone songs on the CD or in categorized albums. But what sets the iRiver SlimX 400 apart from the rest of the pack is the ability to read Winamp play lists complete with ID3 tags and CD Text. The SlimX 400 also includes an in-line remote control with an FM tuner complete with programmable presets and all navigated through an easy to use menu system.

The anti-shock system in the SlimX 400 delivers an unprecedented 16 minutes of shock free playback; a feature most fitness gurus will find attractive. The enclosure of the SlimX 400 consists of a stylish metal and plastic combination and is among the slimmest on the market courtesy of Palo Alto based design firm INNO Design.

Also included with the SlimX 400 CD player is two rechargeable NiMH batteries, an external battery pack, car cassette adapter, cigarette adapter, carrying case and stylish wrap around Sennheiser MX300 headphones.

Setup and Testing

The first thing you will want to do before using the SlimX 400 is to completely charge the batteries. While they are charging grab a drink and read the instruction manual as there is a lot to read. The manual, while very long, is well laid out with detailed instructions and plenty of pictures. Everything this player is capable of doing is controlled with the in-line remote control unit. If you read our SlimX 350 review you will notice that the SlimX 350 has controls both on the remote and on the CD player itself. The SlimX 400 however only has controls on the remote which is both good and bad in some respects. Everything is at your fingertip which is a good thing, but there is also more commands to remember which can be bad if you do not take the time to read the manual.

It took us a while to get used to all of the features the SlimX 400 has; and there really is a lot. Once we got the commands down, we were able to navigate within the remote control rather easily. The more basic and intuitive functions are all easy to find while the more complicated and less used functions are several layers down into the menu system where they belong

In our CD-R/RW tests, the SlimX 400 played without a hitch on our Verbatim, TDK and Memorex CD-R/RW media. The anti-shock mechanism worked perfectly and we never had a problem with it skipping, both during MP3 and regular CD music playback. One of the coolest things we have ever seen come from the portable CD market is the ability to play from burned Winamp MPU play lists and play back MP3’s with it. Those yearning for an MP3 jukebox but are not willing to fork out $400 dollars for one will love the SlimX 400’s versatility. iRiver touts the SlimX 400 as being Firmware upgradeable through free online updates and even goes so far as claiming that future Ogg Vorbis support may be available, but we have been hearing that claim since the SlimX 350 so don’t hold your breath. On some CD’s a pause occurred as the SlimX 400 added information into the systems memory for the 16 minutes of ant-shock music playback. You will probably notice a longer pause on CD’s containing MP3’s over regular music CD’s.

The included Sennheiser MX300 wrap around headphones look nice and feature a unique slider which when in the closed position hide 3 external holes in the headphones. When the holes are exposed, external sound is supposed to be let in allowing you to be more aware of your surroundings. This is a good feature for joggers who need to be able to listen to distractions on the road. We noticed the difference when the slider was open and closed, but there was minimal impact. The Sennheiser MX300 headphones produce average bass and highs through their speakers, but nothing to write home about. To test the music quality we used our Denon  AH-D210 Digital Stereo headphones. The Slim X400 reproduced rich sounding music and each equalizer setting reproduced a noticeable difference in how the music was projected. You can also manually configure the equalizer but with 8 preset configurations, there is sure to be a setting that works well for you. The FM tuner worked great and picked up all stations in our area and adding them to memory was very easy.

The battery life on the SlimX 400 is average for a portable CD player; around 13 hours. But when you figure in all of the included abilities such as 16 minutes of anti-shock time, a backlit LCD display and NiMH batteries, 13 hours is great. The external battery pack adds an additional 10 hours should you decide to use it; perfect for business trips. Upon recharging the batteries, the SlimX 400 actually drains the batteries completely and recharges then from an empty cell to help eliminate any memory build-up that may occur.

Conclusion

The iRiver SlimX 400 fills in the MP3/CD player niche perfectly. For those wanting a little more out of their MP3 player or portable CD player, the SlimX 400 will be a great match. For those wanting features of an MP3 jukebox player complete with categorized albums and play list support without shelling out hundreds of dollars, the SlimX 400 is also a great fit. Remember, most people burn MP3’s versus ripping MP3’s from a music CD. A 700 MB CD is still a lot of storage capacity and at $199 the SlimX 400 is a great value for everything that is included. The iRiver SlimX 400 CD player is as polished as a portable CD player can get, and it is clear that a lot of research and development went into the creation of the SlimX 400 as it could possibly be the best portable CD player currently on the market.