G3's pearl-white finish with silver banding give it a classy look. You might even be tempted to use the included lanyard and hang the unit from your neck. On the other hand, if you hide it in a pocket, the earphones, with their white body and stems might fool people into thinking you're listening to an iPod. The better part is that they actually sound great, and the G3 can pump enough wattage through them to make you forget downtown traffic.
Part of the secret to the G3's diminutive size is its battery. A single AAA battery powers the unit, and iAUDIO claims it will deliver 50 hours of listening. I've used it for at least 50 hours and it's still going strong.
Controls are well placed with the basic on/off, mode change, and record buttons on top with tactile identifiers so you can feel what you're clicking. The only other control is a thumb-operated joystick on the front, next to the monochrome LCD. But once you've made your selection you can slide the Hold switch on the G3's back so you don't accidentally change anything. I was able to find my way around the system easily and the joystick makes scrolling through options intuitive and fast.
Playing MP3 files is a given, but when I first opened the G3 it wasn't able to play WMA files with DRM (Digital Rights Management) encoding. I logged on to the iAUDIO web site and download the latest version of firmware that included WMA DRM functionality. I plugged the unit into my Toshiba M35 laptop via the USB 2.0 connection, and used the G3's software to update the firmware in the player. While I was on the web site I perused the collection of Logos available. Logos are animated GIF files that appear at startup on the G3's LCD. You can create these yourself if you're so inclined, but I downloaded one that someone else spent time creating. Again the G3's jetShell software loaded it onto my unit.
I set the unit to play from its built-in FM radio, and kicked off the auto-scan feature to find the local stations. Reception was very good, so I pushed the record button on the top of the G3. The record indicator flashed on the LCD while I was recording, and when the song was done I hit the stop button. But when I tried to play the song I had difficulty finding it. One of the G3's few inconveniences is there is no way to display a list of your music files. You can scroll to the next/previous song, but it isn't possible to select your tune from a list. When I did find the FM recording, the playback quality was very good.
You can also record voice through the built-in microphone and record through the line-in jack from any stereo sound source.
The G3 has 6 sound control modules including an equalizer, BBE dynamic sound, Mach3Bass, MP Enhance, 3D Surround, and left/right pan. They compliment each other to produce sometimes stunning sound quality.
Three software titles are included with the G3. jetAudio is a combination player/manager that includes CD RIP, file conversion (including WAV, MP3, OGG), CD Burning, and recording to any of its file formats. jetCast is an Internet broadcast utility that lets you create your own Internet radio station, and jetShell which is another music file manager but includes the functions to manage the G3's logos, firmware, and other device specific functions.
The iAUDIO G3 is a gem, packed with sound and functionality. It's easy to use and will give your ears a great workout.
G3 256MB - $149
G3 512MB - $199
G3 1GB - $249