Review: iriver clix 2 cradle
One of the most uniquely designed and stylish accessories made exclusively for use with the iriver clix 2 is its official cradle, which not only charges and syncs the player but also enables audio playback through its integrated speaker and headphone jack.
Too good to be true? Read on to find out.
The cradle is nicely packaged in a black box that features a glossy and slightly raised image of the clix 2 on the front and back.
Printed on the flap of the box is the phrase "For clix mania," which is cute and helpful in rationalizing any accessory obsession you might have.
Included in the box is quite a bit more than I expected, especially considering the insignificant set of accessories bundled with the actual player.
The warranty pamphlet and USB cable didn’t surprise me, but the all-Korean manual (an English version doesn’t seem to exist) and zippered pouch sure did. And since you already know about my love of cases, I’m sure you won’t mind the following indulgence.
Pretty nice, right? And it even has two pockets!
I think the top pocket is supposed to be for the USB cable, but I use it for my Sennheiser CX300 inner-ear monitors.
Even though it’s nearly three times as thick, the pouch isn’t big enough to hold the clix 2 (all the more reason to consider the Noreve leather case, of course).
Fashioned out of brushed aluminum and black plastic, the cradle nicely complements the player and is an attractive accent on a nightstand, desk, or other flat surface.
What sets the 2.15" x 1.94" x 0.59" unit apart from docking stations for other players is not just the X-shaped indentation (from which headphone and USB plugs are jutting out) but the fact that it is actually made to sit on its side.
Because what at first glance looks like the base of the cradle is actually a 1W mono speaker. So setting it down in what would typically be the regular or "normal" way muffles most of the sound, which defeats the purpose of the speaker’s inclusion.
If you would rather make use of the headphone jack and plug in your favorite pair of IEMs or a set of external speakers, resting the cradle on its speaker is fine.
Connecting the cradle to a computer through its USB 2.0 port does more than just enable you to manage the content on your clix 2. The connection also charges the player and the cradle itself. That’s right. Built right into the cradle is a non-removable lithium-polymer battery that reportedly receives a full charge in an hour, runs for 7 hours, and can be on standby (notice the power switch) for up to 35 hours.
Since the cradle is not equipped with an LED indicator, there’s obviously no way to know when it’s fully charged or when it’s running low on power. And given its estimated runtime, it doesn’t tap into the clix 2’s battery supply either.
The placement of the cradle’s headphone and USB plugs may look incredibly odd, but given that the player’s headphone jack and USB port are on opposite sides of the device, it’s actually completely sensible (not to mention functional).
With the cradle set in its "proper" side position and the clix 2 connected through its headphone jack, the player is placed at the perfect viewing angle for watching videos and looking at the "Now Playing" screen during music playback.
When the player is connected through its USB port, the cradle is best used with the speaker facing down and the display orientation switched to portrait mode. This makes sense for two reasons. First, the cradle’s integrated speaker is useless without being connected to the clix 2’s headphone jack. And second, look what happens when the unit is set on its side:
The player is upside down and backwards.
The cradle’s built-in mono speaker has a maximum output of 1 watt, so its audio quality is far from stellar. In fact, it’s actually quite poor. My un-discerning ears weren’t expecting much, but they’re still disappointed by the hollow tin-can sound, slight distortion, and "fuzziness" at even barely audible volume levels.
The cradle doesn’t have any volume controls of its own, which I wouldn’t mind so much if I didn’t have to practically max out my clix 2 to hear anything. The player’s volume level tops out at 40: I set it at 8 with my Sennheisers but crank it up to at least 35 when using the cradle. I haven’t yet forgotten to lower the volume before using headphones afterward, but if you ever hear a scream from the middle of the Pacific Ocean, that’s me . . . blowing out my eardrums.
And while I like the unique "side design" that the cradle adopts, it’s not practical when watching a video. When the display is facing you, the speaker is not; when the speaker is facing you, the display is not.
The iriver clix 2 cradle would be a fantastic, must-have accessory if not for its integrated speaker, which sounds great on paper but falls far short of even lowered expectations in person. Not only does it produce muffled and tin-like sound, but it’s also the root of one of my other gripes about the unit: no dedicated volume controls.
If iriver omitted the speaker (and added an LED indicator for battery status), the dock could still command its $45 asking price based solely on its charging/syncing capabilities and good looks. Then again, its unconventional design (part of its appeal) doesn’t make any sense without its speaker.
Available now through Amazon and other retailers.