IOPS F325 MP3 Player

a review by
Al Wong

September 14, 2004


F325 Front
The F325 MP3 player

This is my first MP3 player. I have wanted one for some time but could not justify spending $300-$400 for what is essentially computer memory with earphones. Recently, the prices for MP3 players have come down to the point where I thought it was worthwhile to get a player.

I chose the IOPS F325 MP3 player because I wanted something small and light (it's roughly the size of a pack of chewing gum) with no moving parts. That ruled out all players with hard drives like the Apple iPod. Also, although there are several on-line reviews, I found no bad reviews for this particular player and that is always a good sign.

You have to charge the MP3 player first as it comes with it's own inbuilt Lithium Ion battery. It recharges from the USB port from a computer or from an AC adaptor that supports a USB connector. Fortunately, I almost always have a laptop with me when I travel. The first recharge took about 3 hours.

Using the Features

MP3 Player

Downloading MP3 files into the IOPS player was pretty straightforward. You just turn it ON and plug it in a USB port. In Windows XP, the player looks like a regular USB drive and you just drag and drop music files into the Music folder. The player supports MP3, WMA and OGG audio files. (If you are using Windows 98SE, you need to install drivers from the included CD so your machine can recognize the USB player. If you are using Windows 98 or below, you are out of luck as the player won't be recognized.)

The included earphones produced music from the player that was very adequate for me. I was quite satisfied with the sound.

One thing was very puzzling at first. I could not figure out is why some MP3 filenames display fine in the MUSIC window and other filenames displayed junk(!?) The filenames all display correctly in the four line listing mode, but in the MUSIC window, some filenames do not show up at all. However, all files do play correctly even if you can't see the filename. I discuss this bug in the Firmware Bugs section below.

FM Radio

Reception to major radio stations was only fair. Good reception was very dependant on how the unit was oriented. Got a some light static from signals from "strong" radio stations and was very surprised by that.

At first, I couldn't figure out how to preset the channels on the FM radio. The user manual was not clear at all. I finally figured it out. You have to go into preset mode (using the 5-toggle joystick), find the preselected channel you want to replace (like CH01), hit the EQ button to "delete" it, go into autoscan mode (again using the 5-toggle joystick), find the radio channel you want to preset, then hit the EQ button to save it at that channel. So a just deleted preset like CH01 at an old channel becomes the new preset at the channel you selected.

You get up to 20 presets for the radio though.

Voice Recorder

This is also very straightforward. You go into Voice mode. You press the REC button to toggle between recording and stop recording. The quality of the recording is very clear. The built-in microphone is very sensitive.

The HOLD button does not work with the recorder. It serves another function. See the Problems section below.

You may also record from the FM radio or from a wired audio connection but I will probably never use these functions.


Although the player works fine once you figure out how the controls work, there are a number of problems with this product from very annoying to just mildly irritating:

  1. The user manual is the main problem. It's a smallish user handbook (3.5" X 4") and seems to have been designed to be used only by smurfs. The microscopic font and icons of the user manual is very hard to read. It is also incomplete and it does not describe all the player functions in detail. On top of that, it's written in "Engrish" so you have to decipher it as well.

  2. At first, I couldn't figure out how to preset the channels on the FM radio. The user manual was not clear at all. I finally figured it out. You have to go into preset mode, find the preselected channel you want to replace (like CH01), hit the EQ button to "delete" it, go into autoscan mode, find the radio channel you want to preset, then hit the EQ button to save it at that channel. So a just deleted preset like CH01 at an old channel becomes the new preset at the channel you selected.

  3. What does the HOLD button do? It's mentioned in the user manual but never explained! At first, I thought the HOLD button works with the recording function. It puts the recorder on hold.

    Later as I was reading a review of another MP3 player, I discovered what it does. HOLD disables the player buttons. This is a useful feature if the player is OFF and you don't want it to inadvertently turn ON while it's in your pocket. Or if the player is ON and is playing songs, you don't want it disturbed, say, while you are running.

  4. There is no language setting for English on the player. I changed the language to Western and W. Europe but that does not seem to change anything. The user manual does not mention what these mean.

  5. This is a nitpicking thing but still slightly annoying. The labeling text for the top control buttons is upside down! If you're looking at the OLED display then turn the player 90 degrees towards you to see the buttons on top, the labeling text is upside down. It should be a little thing to flip the text and the buttons so you can read them. It's funny how the buttons are ergonomically placed but the text is not!

Firmware Bugs

The firmware is the software that is running inside the mp3 player. Fortunately, updated firmware can be downloaded from the Internet and installed into the player as they become available.

I put this section in to get the attention of the IOPS firmware programmers and tech support. Perhaps they can correct these bugs in the next firmware update.

  1. Player sometimes fails to display the MP3 filename in the MUSIC window.

    IOPS/V@mp tech support could not help me with this. They kept insisting it had something to do with the bit sampling rate of the file. I had my doubts about that. Why should the sampling rate affect the filename display?

    I finally figured out the filename display problem. I was correct in pursuing the title/artist fields in the Windows filename. In Windows XP, there are extra fields for audio files like title, artist, album, etc. You may change these fields by right clicking the audio file and choosing Properties from the pulldown menu. Then click the Summary tab and then click the Advanced button (if it's there).

    I noticed the player either displays the MP3 filename or it displays the title/artist fields. The problem is it does not do the latter consistently even though the title and artist fields are non-empty. I finally figured out why (my computer background comes into play). I noticed one Beach Boy file had an album title and displayed correctly while another Beach Boy file had no album title and did not display correctly. It turns out you need all three fields (title, artist and album) for the player to display title/artist correctly. The album field must not have junk (non-text) characters in it.

    It seems Windows Explorer is more forgiving if the album field has junk characters. They get ignored in Windows Explorer. The MP3 player seems to cough on junk characters in the album field.

    So the MUSIC window display algorithm for MP3 files is:

    1. If the title, artist and album fields are all blank, display the filename.
    2. If the title, artist and album fields are all non-blank, display title/artist.

    The problem appears to occur if some of the fields are filled in or have junk (non-text) characters in them. Then the firmware doesn't know what to do.

    Looks like a future firmware fix to me.

    I surmise the album field comes before the title and artist fields. Since the album field is blank or contains junk characters, the player is not able to parse the next two fields (title and artist).

    In the four line display, the firmware just displays the filename. That's why all the files are displayed here with no error. The firmware doesn't muck with the title and artist fields here.

    For WMA files, the player displays the filename only in the MUSIC window display and the four line display.

  2. Deleting a file takes an excessive amount of time.

    When you delete a file from the player, there appears to be an excessive amount of time before you can go back into the 9 Box Main Menu window again. The player just freezes or gets locked into Delete mode. It seems the player takes a long time to delete a file.

    If you delete a file in the player while connected to a computer, it takes no time at all.

    Ideally, what should happen is the mp3 player should play the selected song briefly before you decide to delete it. As it is now, you have to go into Music mode to listen to the song, then go into Delete mode to delete the song, then go back into Music mode to listen to the next song, then go into Delete mode..., etc. The long pauses between switching from Delete mode to the 9 Box Main Menu to Music mode is very annoying.

  3. Currently playing song "skips" when you try to navigate into/out of a sub-folder in the four line filename display.

    Slow player processor or firmware bug?

  4. The MUSIC window sometimes displays "No Track" even though a song is currently playing.

    Why is that? A definite bug.

  5. Cannot access the three main folders, Music, Voice and Record.

    The user manual is wrong here. If you are in music mode, record mode, or radio mode, going to the navigation menu does not display the three folders.

    You have to go into encoding mode, then go to the navigation menu, then the three folders are displayed.

  6. AVS animation files have no audio.

    AVS files may be played but there is no audio. Do AVS files have audio?

  7. Player doesn't always remember currently playing song.

    September 30, 2004 Update - If the player is set in the repeat menu to ALL NORMAL (play all songs once), the player remembers the currently playing song if you turn it OFF and back ON. ALL NORMAL is the default setting.

    If the player is set in the repeat menu to DIR NORMAL (play all songs once in the chosen subfolder only), the player does not remember the currently playing song if you turn it OFF and back ON. This is inconsistent behaviour and unexpected for the user. The player should remember the currently playing song.

    I have not tested all the repeat menu settings extensively but this is one bug I found.


In general, getting this MP3 player was a good thing. I like the fact it's small, light and has no moving parts so it travels well. You can also hook it up to a car radio (relatively easily) and you don't have to fumble around to change CDs while driving. The player has enough memory to hold several CDs worth of songs.

The OLED display is bright and crisp. The only problem is it's hard to see the display in bright sunlight but that is a minor thing.

The only real drawbacks is the user manual is crap, there were a number of firmware bugs to overcome, and the tech support was not very knowledgable about this product (and therefore not helpful).

The F325 player comes with 256MB of memory and I thought it would be enough. However, after using it for about two weeks, I am thinking maybe I should have gotten the 512MB model. My internal debate goes on. :)

October 24, 2004 Update - It seems only the 256MB version of the MP3 player is being sold in the USA. The 512MB version is not available yet.

Related Links

  • February 6, 2006 Update - Read my review of my new IOPS F5 MP3 Player! It's an upgrade to my F325 player.

    This is the URL listed on the CD that comes with the MP3 player. You can see pictures and the complete specs for this player. My player came with firmware version which is the most current version available.

    If you call tech support, they will point you to but if you click the USA link, you will come back to the link above.

    February 4, 2006 Update - This website is down. This is is disappointing because this website had ancillary information like FAQs, firmware updates and tech support contact information. It seems IOPS has stopped their support in the USA for their "older" (only a year older!) MP3 players.

    This is IOPS link for the MP3 player in Korea. The support link is useless. There is no other content.

    February 4, 2006 Update - This Korean website used to have some information on the F325. Now it's a propaganda page for their newer MP3 players. It seems they have stopped supporting their "older" (only a year older!) MP3 players in Korea too.

    Tech support at at first denied they were selling the 256MB model in the USA until I showed them the above link. In fact, I bought my player from this store!

My Writings

Last updated : February 6, 2006
Copyright 2004-2006 Al Wong, Los Angeles, California, USA