Upside: A colour screen is always a bonus, especially if it doesn't hamper battery life. The H320 has a rated battery life of up to an impressive 16 hours; it'll be interesting to see the real-world figures. The player gives you a pleasing interface with a cool, info-packed screen, and you can view JPEG and BMP photos on it as well. The H320's body is simple, durable, and utilitarian, but its overall design is mundane. Features abound: you get an FM tuner, a built-in voice recorder, FM and line-in recording, and a line-out port. It's a phenomenal recording device, with numerous MP3 bit-rate settings and recording-level controls. It's one of the first non-PMC devices we've used to support MTP and Janus, which allow autosyncing with WMP 10.0 and subscription-based transfers to the device, respectively. These next-gen features are huge for the H320 as previous H-series models were incompatible with protected WMA files and included weak software. SRS WOW effects and compatibility with MP3, protected WMA, OGG, WAV, and ASF files round out the player's offerings.
Downside: While we appreciate the Explorer-style folder tree concept popularised by iRiver, it's not always the best way to find or play back music; an on-the-go playlist feature would help. The H320 measures only 104 x 61mm, but it's 23mm thick, and it's heavy at 187 grams. The control buttons could use some work; while they're easy to manipulate and are grouped close together, it's not immediately clear how to access and explore menus and secondary functions. Photos add a sublime touch to the user experience, but they load slowly, particularly those more than 1MB in size; iRiver is looking into automatic photo compression in WMP 10.0. The international version includes a shutterbug-friendly feature that allows you to connect many brands of digital cameras for transferring photos directly to the H320's hard drive. The U.S. version wil not support this useful trait. So far, our biggest complaint is that you can't view photos and listen to music simultaneously. The good news is that iRiver intends to add this vital feature in a future firmware update.
Outlook: Like the H100 series before it, the iRiver H320 is a formidable audio device with multiformat playback and solid recording abilities -- and a colour screen. It's thicker and heavier, though, and while many users will be interested in photo playback on what is primarily an audio device, smaller and even more feature-filled (albeit more expensive) products such as the Archos Gmini400 may outshine the H300-series players.