A portable player
with high-end sound
Who needs a $2,000 iPod?
No one, really. But wanting one is another story.
Astell&Kern, the arm of the South Korean device maker iRiver that specializes in high-end audio, has built a handheld music player that may outperform many five-figure home systems. The price has not been determined, but a spokesman said to expect it to be more than $2,000.
Astell&Kern has gone for the no-compromise engineering that audio purists adore. For instance, it has a pair of analog chips to convert data to sound, instead of the usual single chip. The two chips help ensure that none of the sound that should go to one channel pollutes the other.
The device’s touch screen is a 3.3-inch AMOLED (active-matrix organic light-emitting diode) mounted in an aircraft-aluminum case with a carbon fiber back. It also has built-in Wi-Fi, so it can be loaded wirelessly.
The sound was good. OK, really, really good. But the device isn’t perfect. Larger and weightier than an iPod, the asymmetrical case was a little uncomfortable to hold. A leather case is pretty much the only accessory. Finally, there’s the steep price.
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