Iomega Hip Zip Portable MP3 Player Review

Author: Austin Bailey
Editor: Howard Ha
Publish Date: Monday, February 5th, 2001
Originally Published on Neoseeker (http://www.neoseeker.com)
Article Link: http://www.neoseeker.com/Articles/Hardware/Reviews/iomegahipzip/
Copyright Neo Era Media, Inc. - please do not redistribute or use for commercial purposes.

Introduction

The name Iomega is more likely to drum up imagery of storage than personal audio. From the pioneers of the Zip, and the troubled Jazz storage types, Iomega is no stranger to portable storage. Which is why they came out with the neat Clik! storage media type and then signed a whole bunch of OEM portable MP3 player manufacturers who incorporate the tiny little disc readers.

So just what is the Clik! disc? Well we first encountered it with the Sensory Science MP2300 portable player, the first brand name player to use the Clik! media. These small little discs store 40MB of data each. The cost per disc is very low, around $80-90 for a package of 10 discs. That’s 8 or 9 dollars a disc, compared to $85 and up for a 64MB CompactFlash or SmartMedia card. Of course since the time we’ve reviewed the Sensory Science player, the Clik! disc has been renamed to the PocketZip, and now Iomega has come out with its own portable MP3 player based on this nifty little storage device.

Close Up & Box Contents

The HipZip has all the bells and whistles of a current day MP3 player: a USB interface, support for both MP3 and WMA formats, secure download support, and the ability to be upgraded for future formats and security standards. As with the MP-2300, the unit comes with 2 PocketZip discs, and features a built in Li-Ion battery rated for up to 12 hours of play.

Iomega bundles a full version of the excellent MusicMatch Jukebox Plus software, along with an actual upgrade code so that you can download and unlock the latest version of the software, version 6.0. The package is rounded out with a compact charge unit, a carrying case with belt clip, and a pair of Koss brand sports headphones, almost without question the same KSC-15 phones that come bundled with the Rio 600.

My initial impressions when getting everything out was very good: this is a quality bundle and the player is very suave. I thought the MP2300 a little bulky and awkward, but the aggressive design, high-tech look, and rubberized grips and buttons make the HipZip a very fun player – a fact that has allowed the HipZip to skirt past the limitations of an integrated mechanical drive which adds a lot of weight and bulk to a player.

Using the Player

The HipZip runs using the Daddio OS by Iobjects. The LCD display, which can be set with a backlight, displays the track title, elapsed time, playmode, and volume levels while playing a song. Stop, pause, play and movement functions are located on the front of the player. To the side is the rubberized menu button and the volume rocker. By pressing the menu button you bring up a pretty extensive list of options, including playlist management, playmode selection, equalizer settings and song info.

The unit comes with 4 equalizer presets, plus a custom mode that let’s you adjust bass and treble to your liking. The play modes available are what you would expect, though A-B repeat is missing. Unique to the player is the nice playlist feature: you can rearrange the order of the songs, and select exactly which songs to play with a very easy to use, intuitive management system. Most players don’t even allow you to change the playlist order through the computer interface software, let alone editing the playlist from within the player itself! This is a definite bonus, and one that impressed me a lot.

Using the HipZip Cont'd

Hip Zip, Headphones & PocketZip Disc
Transfer of music can be done using the included MusicMatch Jukebox software, but since the HipZip acts like a PocketZip drive, you can also just use Windows Explorer to drag and drop songs to and from the player. This is also neat because you can also transport other small files, if you so wish. One of our concerns while reviewing the Sensory Science 2300 was that the PocketZip media would slow down the music transfer rate. As we found out, songs were transferred in record times using the Sensory Science, and though the HipZip didn’t give us as impressive numbers, it was nonetheless quite fast. A 30MB transfer of files took around 2 minutes and 21 seconds to transfer, using MusicMatch, which is still on par, if not faster, than most USB based players.

As with the Sensory Science player, the HipZip is virtually skip proof. I wasn’t able to eek out a burp or pause during playback no matter how vigorously I shook the player. We’re not even talking about some 30 second anti-shock buffer, because I wasn’t able to make the tracks skip even when trying through to the end of the song.

Sound Quality

The sound quality of the HipZip is phenomenal. Each of the 2 PocketZip discs come pre-installed with some nice 64Kbps WMA tracks from various artists, and the quality from these tracks was superb. In fact, when I first listened to all these tracks, I was taken by surprise by the sheer quality of sound I got from the player.

I tested the player with some of my own tracks – a varied assortment of music genres ranging from hip hop, to jazz, and R&B. The playback was lively and detailed. The soundstage was clear and wide. I was extremely pleased with the sound from the pairing of the Koss headphones and the HipZip.

If you remember from my Rio 600 review, however, the Koss KSC-15 headphones have a serious problem with bass. On the HipZip this flaw was less noticeable, probably because the HipZip itself had a good bass reproduction. Nonetheless, when you play certain material, like techno/electronica, or any contemporary R&B that relies on heavy bass, it becomes quite clear that the HipZip would have been better paired with a set of headphones with a better dynamic low end performance.

HipZip Trip Ups

Hip Zip in its Sport Case
The HipZip has some good qualities, like its excellent sound playback, and the nifty playlist manager, but it also has a small smattering of flaws that irk me. First of all, the HipZip seems a little more clumsy in its disc reading than did the MP2300. There is a slightly longer pause between tracks as the drive reads the info for the next song. The clicking and whirring that accompanies the disc reads seem slightly louder. Most annoying is the HipZip’s insistence with actually seeking to each track when you attempt to skip past several at a time: if you wanted to jump from song 2 to song 6, for instance, you should be able to press fast-forward 5 times and be at the song of your choice – the HipZip actually forces a seek and read after EACH and EVERY depression of the seek buttons, so that if you press forward 5 times, you have to wait for 5 processes of “click-whirrr-click-whirr”. It makes a simple operation such as skipping past several tracks into a nightmare of click and wait.

Final Say

The HipZip makes a startling impression on anyone who uses it for the first time. The sound quality is astoundingly good, save for the inability of the included Koss headphones to give a good bass performance. The features are very solid, and this would be a nearly flawless player except for the annoying way it reads the disc between seeks. Still, it combines low cost of storage with compelling features and good sound quality, so it does represent one of the better players out there.

Overall Score: 83%

»Neoseeker.com

Copyright Neo Era Media, Inc., 1999-2014.
All Rights Reserved.

Please do not redistribute or use this article in whole, or in part, for commercial purposes.