First of all, the iVu from Latte is NOT a touchscreen player. Although I like touchscreen players for their simpler interfaces (in most cases) the iVu uses buttons on the top edge for control of it's functions, and once you figure out their uses the interface is a refreshing diversion as the screen stays free from fingerprints.From left to right the controls along the top edge include ESC/HOLD, Vol trigger, Menu, Back and Forward, and on the right end there is a Power/Play/Pause button.The front face reveals a 3" TFT screen with 400 x 240 pixel resolution (WQVGA), and left/right speakers on the ends. While not quite the 480 x 272 screens that are common on many players now, the iVu's screen looks great and will play videos in wide screen format up to 800 x 400 AVI.Although they are not great for anything with bass tracks, the little speakers do make it convenient to check out the features that include audio. The iVu will play music, videos, and FM radio. It will display photos and text. It has a stopwatch and calendar. The features that stand out though are rare on pocket media players. The iVu has a built-in camera that will take 2 megapixel photos, will record video with sound, and can output it's audio wirelessly to any nearby FM radio. I'm a big fan of bluetooth audio, but there is always an additional investment required to take advantage of bluetooth. Chances are great your car already has an FM radio, and any other portable media player you own that has it's own FM radio in it can receive and play the audio from the iVu. The left end of the iVu is where you'll find the 3.5mm headphone jack and standard mini USB port. No proprietary cable required. Included with the iVu is a 12DC to USB car adapter which will keep your iVu charged in your car, as well as a USB charging/data cable and typical earbud headphones. Music. You can play MP3, WMA, OGG, FLAC, ACC, and APE files with the iVu. Included was a FLAC file and an MP3 file to demonstrate binaural 3D sound. I'm not sure where you'll find any other examples to listen to, but the 3D demo shows off an amazing potential. Music sounded decent through the included earbuds, better through a better headset, and decent using FM to my desktop FM radio. Music will continue to play outside the music app, but a press of the play/pause button will take you instantly back into it. You can listen while viewing photos or text. There doesn't seem to be any cover art support, but you have a few display options within the music app. I'll give Music an A for the broad range of formats supported and output options.
Video. Supported video formats include AVI, RM, RMVB, and FLV. Maximum frame rate is 30fps. I dropped a couple 480x272 AVI videos on it that played fine on my Samsung P2 and although the video looked great the sound was out of sync with the image. The documentation suggest the videos up to 800x400AVI and 720x480RMVB will play, but until I can verify I'm reserving my judgement over the iVu's video ability. Radio. The radio includes manual search as well as auto preset search. You can add or delete channels from the presets. You can switch between stereo and mono output. You can pick from China, Japan, USA, Euro, and Campus Radio areas. Lastly you can record from the radio channel you are tuned to. With the headphones plugged in to serve as an antenna, the iVu found all my local stations reliably. When I tried to record from the radio the iVu locked up on me and would not respond to any inputs. Fortunately there is a on/off slide switch that serves as a hard OFF or reset and got the iVu working again. The Radio is satisfactory, but it'll take a firmware update to get the record feature working. Photos. The iVu wouldn't display any variable bitrate JPGs I put on it, but did display all other photos I tried. JPG, BMP, and GIFs are supported. There is a slide show feature which can be set to 2, 5, or 8 second between images. You can rotate images right or left in 90 degree steps. Zooming will work with photos that start out larger than the screen's native resolution. Images look crisp with the iVu's 155.5 dots_per_inch resolution. With all features working I have to give the photo app an A. eBook: Simple .TXT files are supported. You can set bookmarks, load a bookmark, and delete bookmarks associated with any file. There are Small, Mid, and Big font sizes to choose from. You can also choose from White, Green, or Black text color. There is even a Browse mode that will automatically page through your ebook at a chosen rate. It's not as graphically pleasing as the text viewer on the Samsung P2, but enough features are there to make it a reasonable application for perusing text when needed. I'll give the ebook reader a B+. Digital Camera: The iVu's lens is tiny and doesn't let in much light. With good light (outdoors in sunlight) it will take decent images although they don't match up to those I took with my original 2mp digital camera. You can set the captured resolution from 320 x 240 to 1600 x 1200. There are three backlight levels to choose from. You get Normal, Mono, Sepia, Negative, Solar1 and Solar2 effects to choose from. You can also switch between Auto and Night BW(?) settings. If they had put a better lens on the iVu the camera option might have been of value. I couldn't get a sharp picture no matter the setting. Digital Camera gets a D. Don't buy the iVu for this feature.
Digital Video: Video suffers the same fate. The tiny lens restricts the light coming into the iVu and results in grainy images. Action helps a little to hide the blur, but the iVu is no replacement for a standalone video camera. Even the assorted Flip Video cameras are better with significantly better lenses. Video gets a C, but only because the defects are less noticable in video than in still photos.
Voice Recorder: I have no idea where the microphone is on the iVu, but it must have one since it did record my voice when prompted to. You can choose between 32 kbps and 64 kbps WAV files for recording format. You can pause and resume within a single record session. The mic doesn't pick up very well, so keep the iVu close and don't expect to use it for lecture recording. Nothing more to say as it's a common feature and works. C for average. Other players have better mics, better formats, and better interfaces for their recording apps.
User Interface: It's not a touchscreen, but for a button controlled device the iVu is fairly straightforward. The fwd/back toggle does most of the work. ESC steps you out of sub menus. Menu and Play/Pause buttons often work the same for a selection option. You tap Vol then have a second or two to use the fwd/back buttons to raise or lower volume. I've played with more efficient UIs and some less efficient ones. The iVu's controls serve their purpose and feel as though they'll last.
Conclusion: I picked this 8gb iVu up at Target.com for $130 plus shipping and tax. With it's FM transmitter and camera it stands alone at that price point. Yet compared to other 8gb players with 3" screens seems a fair value. The 8gb Samsung P2 is $149 when on sale for comparison. If you're looking for a player to keep in your car, this is the one you should get.