(Pocket-lint) - The 5Gb hard drive market is awash with players all vying to be the top dog, so what makes iriver's H10 stand out from the crowd? We take a look and find out.

Called the H10, the 5Gb MP3 player is small and compact measuring 95.5 X 54.6 X 15 (mm)in size. The front boasts a 1.5in colour screen and a vertical sliding control mechanism almost identical to the Creative Zen Micro (expect a law case soon). Additional to the slider, the player sports a back, and select button on the front, play and volume control buttons on the side and a hold button on the top. The player comes in four different colours in an attempt to appeal to those who don't want just the standard silver, or these days white.

Get inside the player and on the surface it's your standard MP3 player that supports drag and drop functionality via USB2.0. Menus are easy to control, all via the vertical touch slider, and for MP3 playback the player offers the usual sorting methods; artist, album, genre and playlists.

Get past the player functions and the FM radio and you realise there is more to the H10 than meets the eye. The main feature that stands out is a picture option that allows you to view images you've stored in the pictures folder.

Unlike the iPod Photo you can simply drag and drop the images you want to view on the player into the correct folder and away you go. This does have its drawbacks, mainly that large files take longer to view, but on the whole it works very well. Like the iPod Photo, however iriver has also missed the trick. You can't just plug in a digital camera and download your images on the fly, but the drag and drop functionality is certainly a step in the right direction.

In a similar vein the H10 also has the ability to store and view .txt files. This is an interesting idea and it only works because the screen's quality is so sharp (262k). We aren't suggesting that you read a book on it, but it will get you out of a bind if you really do need to read that document. Our belief is that people will use this to store emergency contact details or passwords (which is a really bad idea) as you are restricted to just .txt files. We tried it with .rtf and even .doc formats but to no avail.


Overall this player is easy to use and performs well producing a good sound that coped well with everything we played (Crystal Method to Bob Dylan) in our tests. iriver promise a 12 hour battery and our tests proved this was the case as long as you didn't view too many pictures. If you weren't happy of course, you could change the phones.

The addition of a good quality screen to view images puts it above the iPod Photo even though it doesn't have the storage capacity to match.

What's the catch? There isn't one really. The player works well with both Mac and PCs (thanks to the drag and drop) and the size means its still small enough to tuck out of the way. Our one piece of advice though, is to throw away the rubber casing as soon as you open the box as it makes the player unusable with it on.

Writing by Stuart Miles.