It's funny. It's been a few months since I wrote about the iRiver H320. If you all recall, I've been reviewing devices as I buy them and seeing how they stack up against the iPod. I reviewed the H320, the Rio Carbon, and this week will publish a review of the Creative Zen Micro (sorry it's taking me so long, but it takes me forever to get to these things).
Anyway, I couple of blogs have recently picked up on the review (Michael Gartenberg, Digital Media Thoughts). For the past few months I've been getting a steady stream of traffic from the MysticRiver forums. I had to shut down comments on the post because I was getting some really nasty comments from folks who really hate the iPod and thought that I was just out to slander the H320. Now I developed some tough skin from working Macworld shows over 5 years where you are facing quite a sensitive and critical group of mostly avid Mac users, but some of the feedback I just don't understand. A lot of the folks in that forum are hard core iPod haters. What is there to hate? It's a great device and it works. I had to delete a bunch of rather tasteless ones as well as shut off comments for that post. The only post I have ever done that for. I even got a rather long but pleasant multi page email from an H320 fan that extolled the virtues of the H320.
Michael sums it up nicely in his post:
"It's amazing that vendors STILL don't realize why the iPod is a success and how to compete against it. Even with a compelling feature set like support for the Janus DRM, if you screw up the basics, there's no way that users will ever even see the advanced stuff."
And that is the crux of it. I DON'T CARE if you device has a million buttons, can be hacked with some non supported firmware so I can plug my digital camera into it, or that it supports photos and video. If the thing can't play music better than an iPod, if it cannot build a catalog of music based on artist/genre/album, if the ONLY user interface to browse the collection of music is a freaking File Browser, then NO SOUP FOR YOU! Back to the store you go. Better luck next time.
Now I hear that the iRiver H10 (Walt Mossberg gave it a great review) is a far better product, has a decent user interface etc. However, I'm staying away from the iRiver products for a while. I think their current customer base is way too far on the techy side, and I'm not sure they "get it" when it comes to building the basics. Meanwhile I think Creative Gets it and love my Zen Micro.