Iomega’s HipZip


Digital audio players may be a dime a dozen–but they’re not cheap if you factor in the cost of a memory expansion card. While the $299 price of Iomega Corp.’s HipZip player is on a par with the competition, this smart-looking device distinguishes itself from the pack by using Iomega’s 40MB PocketZip disks (formerly known as Clik disks) to store music. PocketZip disks cost just $10 to $15 apiece, as compared with $60 for a 32MB SmartMedia card.

Installing the device is easy. You simply load the latest Iomegaware driver (version 2.7, included with the player) on your PC, attach the HipZip to the PC’s Universal Serial Bus port, turn on the device, and reboot your PC. If you already have an Iomega device on your system, you’ll have to uninstall previous drivers–a process carried out during installation.

However, several details were omitted from the QuickStart Guide, details that would have allowed us to avoid a trial-and-error process to figure things out. For example, the device will not be recognized as an Iomega device if it’s not turned on, an installation step the documentation skips. And while the installation routine prompts you to “install” the manual, you’re really just viewing the HTML documentation on the CD through a Web browser. If you remove the CD-ROM, you no longer have access to the manual.

Form and Function

The HipZip isn’t the first player to incorporate the PocketZip drive; Sensory Science’s MP 2300 shipped this summer. But while that device was boxy and not particularly intuitive or well designed, the HipZip is a study in form and design. Though the HipZip is not as slim as other players, its compact, hourglass shape and logically placed menu and volume buttons make it a comfortable fit for one-handed operation. The purple, rubberized sides improve your grip on the unit. Matching them is the unit’s purple, sturdy plastic cover, which protects the disk slot. We particularly liked the way the disk slot includes a generous finger cut-out to make disk removal a breeze. And the pocket-size HipZip really can attach to your hip if you use the included case with its built-in belt clip.

Particularly impressive was the player’s well-organized, full-featured interface, which is designed by Iobjects and uses the Linux-based Dadio Digital Audio Operating System. The adequate LCD screen displays all relevant information, including battery life and volume control bars, track number, title and artist, song length, and equalizer and playback settings.

To change options, you press the Menu/Select button on the unit’s right side, and then you scroll through the easy-to-navigate choices. For example, you can choose from five pl