screens you'll be seeing most of are the main information
screens displayed during MP3 playback.
left is the battery status symbol, then there's the current
equalizer and repeat setting, and to the right is the current
volume level. Below this are the track number and duration
and further down in blue is the artist, title and bitrate
All the songs I tried, encoded at a vast range of bitrates,
all played without incident.
actual song playback the display changes to show a single-mode
7 band spectrum analyzer display and time elapsed.
Files can be paused, resumed and stopped in the usual manner.
There's no stop symbol on any of the control buttons, this
is achieved by pressing and holding the pause button.
video files are listed in amongst your MP3 files so you'll
have to scroll though possibly hundreds of files to get
software is supplied on a small, 8cm CD with a simple, easy
to use front end.
on the software CD are a pair of utilities designed to convert
your videos and images to a smaller, more manageable format.
TOOL resizes your images and also creates a slideshow that
cycles through them automatically. All you do is choose
the images and set the speed at which they change. I assumed
that a Play Rate of 0.5s/f meant 0.5 seconds per frame but
the resultant slideshow moved too fast to even see so you
use a little trial and error to get it right. You can't
preview the results in the software so you have to transfer
the files to your iBall to check it's all working as expected
which can be a bind.
TOOL converts your videos to a format suitable for playback
on the iBall. It accepts video files in the *.avi, *.mov,
*.qt, *.wmv, *.asf, *.wma, *.mpg and *.mpeg format and converts
them to the *.mpv format. You can specify the video quality
and thus the filesize with settings from 4 to 20 frames
per second at various audio quality settings.
tried converting a couple of videos, one of which worked
fine while the other somehow got its audio completely screwed
up. Unfortunately again you can't preview your finished
file using the software and have to transfer the file to
your iBall to play it.
while not super-sensitive, the radio tuner did a pretty
good job of sniffing out m available channels. Whether it
would perform quite so well in weak reception areas I'm
not so sure but I guess for most users it would be perfectly
biggest gripe is that when the tuner reaches its upper or
lower frequency it doesn't cycle back to the start, you
have to search all the way back through the entire frequency
range to get there. So if you get to 108MHz and decide you
wanted to listen to a station at 89MHz you have to reverse
direction and tune down.
no option to manually input the desired frequency which
wouldn't be a difficult task even using just the buttons.
quality was surprisingly clear, even though I've yet to
discover where the microphone aperture is. It must be behind
the USB port somewhere at a guess?
deleting and generally organising your voice files is a
real pain unless you remember the file number, in fact file
management generally on this device is weak which is a shame
as you could potentially have so many of them to trawl through.
quality from MP3s was generally excellent, but the weakness
again lies with management. There's no facility for creating
any kind of playlists or reordering playback. You either
listen to the next song in the series or you hit the "Next
the tiny screen I found video to be ridiculously watchable.
You'll probably develop a migraine if you try and sit through
the whole of Titanic in one go but for short music videos
and occasional clips of the kids it actually suffices. I'd
never have believed it had I not seen it myself but, even
with the lack of detail from such a relatively low resolution
display, it's clear enough to almost enjoy.
likes and Dislikes:
such a small device I was quite impressed with the battery
life. I'm only on the third full charge but so far I'm getting
between five and six hours constant MP3 playback on a single
charge using power saving mode 1 (display dims after 5 seconds),
and at around 85% of full volume. This may well improve
after a few more charge/discharge cycles.
major gripe with this device in my book is that when it's
connected to your USB cable it immediately goes into charge
mode and you are unable to use it in any way at all. You
can't watch a video, listen to an MP3, view pictures or
croon along to the tunes from your favourite radio station
until you unplug it again, which essentially means it's
out of action for an hour and a half until you've juiced
up the battery again. An hour and 30 minutes to full charge
is the time stated by GEiL but as I mentioned earlier, the
charge animation plays continuously so I couldn't confirm
this was accurate.
3DVelocity 'Dual Conclusions Concept' Explained: After discussing
this concept with users as well as companies and vendors
we work with, 3DVelocity have decided that where necessary
we shall aim to introduce our 'Dual Conclusions Concept'
to sum up our thoughts and impressions on the hardware we
review. As the needs of the more experienced users and enthusiasts
have increased, it has become more difficult to factor in
all the aspects that such a user would find important, while
also being fair to products that may lack these high end
"bonus" capabilities but which still represent
a very good buy for the more traditional and more prevalent
mainstream user. The two categories we've used are:
Mainstream User ~ The mainstream user is likely to put
price, stock performance, value for money, reliability and/or
warranty terms ahead of the need for hardware that operates
beyond its design specifications. The mainstream user may
be a PC novice or may be an experienced user, however their
needs are clearly very different to those of the enthusiast,
in that they want to buy products that operate efficiently
and reliably within their advertised parameters.
Enthusiast ~ The enthusiast cares about all the things
that the mainstream user cares about but is more likely
to accept a weakness in one or more of these things in exchange
for some measure of performance or functionality beyond
its design brief. For example, a high priced motherboard
may be tolerated in exchange for unusually high levels of
overclocking ability or alternatively an unusually large
heat sink with a very poor fixing mechanism may be considered
acceptable if it offers significantly superior cooling in
Mainstream User ~
to carry, easy, if a little slow, to add songs to and a
pleasure to listen to, but a total nightmare to navigate.
Perhaps GeIL need a few lessons from Nokia or Samsung on
how to develop intuitive menu systems that are simple to
find your way around.
allowing the iBall to be detected as a mass storage device,
adding MP3 files is as simple as dragging and dropping,
though ideally you need to use the supplied conversion software
to convert your pictures and videos to a more manageable
size for playback, and a more manageable file size for storing.
you want a quality MP3 player plain and simple then you
could probably get the same sound quality for less cash,
but for all the extra functions it's not a bad deal at all.
and stylish enough to become a fashionable device to wear,
decent enough quality for those who like their music, and
clever enough to appeal to gadget lovers the world over.
Throw in an emerging display technology and a clever voice
recording function, not to mention the FM radio, and the
iBall is already looking like hot property.
not to say all is well though. The clumsy, counter-intuitive
menus need a total rethink, as does the clunky file management
system which makes simple housekeeping tasks a truly laborious
process, but that only partially detract from the smug feeling
you get from whipping out something no larger than a small
biscuit to show your mate your fave band's latest music
video complete with quality stereo sound.
it ain't, but as a first attempt it looks like it could
next trendy lifestyle gadget if GeIL use their resources
to market it properly, work on the menus and perhaps increase
the screen size by another 20 or 30% or so.
makes file transfers slow and there's really no excuse for
not using USB2.0 these days, particularly for the 1GB model.
in all though the iBall is a clever little device with a
lot of character that may well grow on you and is certain
to prompt a few admiring glances. Its low weight is also
a great asset, though if I'm honest it's actually too light
for my tastes.
very nice product that should form a solid foundation for
further devices to come.
always looking for ways to make our reviews fairer. A Right
To Reply gives the manufacturer or supplier of the product
being reviewed a chance to make public comments on what
we've said. They can explain perhaps why they've done the
things we were unhappy with or blow their own trumpet over
the things we loved. It's easy for us to pick a product
apart but sometimes things are done a certain way for very
GeIL decide to exercise their "Right To Reply",
we'll publish their comments below: