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Portable AV Devices Get Better With Time

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March 12, 2007 11:00:53 AM

From wind-up record players to the iPod shuffle: Portable audio-video devices get smaller, while gaining functionality.

More about : portable devices time

March 12, 2007 3:48:54 PM

Progress seemed to have slowed over the past 2 years.
I for example havea early 2005 iRiver PMP 140 which has 40 gigs, a 3.5" screen, and can play almost any compressed media(Mp3, divx, wmv, jpg, even text), has output to a TV and makes a handy external-harddrive (no drivers needed!!)
Archos also make a player like this and can also record video from the RCA ports.

Maybe by now MP3/Video players are getting as good as they can get and hard-drive based players will get replaced by players with high capacity flash memory (much more than 4 gig!).
I also expect these media players to get merged with PDAs (with WiFi), GPS, and large-screen cell phones for people that only want to carry one device.

I wish though these players had better support for Divx. I will also like to see a smaller video player with only as thumbnail size screen used mainly for MP3 or output to a TV.
March 12, 2007 4:53:31 PM

I have that Archos, the AV500, 100G drive too!

Nice big screen, but kind of clunky because of teh thickness needed for a screen on top of a laptop HD on top of a Ni-Cd battery as large as the player (14 hours MP3 playtime and 4hours of video).

One thing thought, Archos came out with eth "Jukebox 20" at about the same time as many other HD devices (music only) but there is no mention of it here.

It was rather ungainly, with blue "bumpers" no the ends, but it also hooked up USB and was seen as an external HD (made managing VERY easy and also allowed you to play your music on resident programs on computers that you had at work or home).

There was one out slightly before that one, and it may be the one they mentioned, but the thing looked like a plastic brick, and had the functionality of a 3 legged ceiling fan.

It would be interesting to see how much smaller they can make these things, but also keep in mind that not everyone is an Ipod-idjit (sorry guys, they are great, but they charge a LOT of money for things you can get on other players for much less, provided you know how to use a USB connection.. ;)  ).

The things that are needed now are:

-Slim size (which should get there if they get the CF cards over 40G so they can store full movies at high enough res to export to a regulat TV)

-Interconnectivity (keep it simple! External HD interface is fine for most, let the people use the Itunes or Creative Manager only if they want/need to!)

-MEDIA interconnectivity (I doubt you will have an HDTV portable, but making it so you can playback at least SVID quality video over the machine is really handy. I also found that picture slideshow stuff was GREAT on my camera during ski-trip afterparties. Media players that can upload pics and play them on a larger media device would be great!)

-MULTImedia (Being able to play music, video, or do slideshows is really handy)

-NETWORKING (Although this is a battery gobbler, wireless networking would be really handy. Whether it is to replace the USB connection, or actually enable them to surf one day, this is something to look into.)

And that is about it. All other things would fall under categories of services rather than actual needed things for the devices...

Although other considerations like convenient portability (cases and clips that work!), Ease of use (Menus that would also include editing on the fly, like dumping unwanted songs to a trash folder that could be emptied on confirmation), and better accessories included as a default (Better earphones. Getting a $300 Ipod or more, you shoul get better than "Radio Shack" ear-buds.).

Lets see what will happen. I was unfortunate to jump on the MD train, only to hit a wall when they did, but, hopefully, there will be better waiting for us within our price ranges when the time comes.

And hopefully the RIAA won't be caling ALL the shots or half of what we spend on all of this will be for the corporations licensing and not the actual technology that is in the product!
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March 12, 2007 6:26:14 PM

I'm looking forward to the mp3 player / video player / cell phone / gps / web browser / gaming device. Once they can get something that does each of those things well and is about the size of a current cell phone (possibly larger because of a larger screen, but certainly not thicker), then I think that handhelds will have reached maturity. Right now, my midrange cell phone can do all of those things, but is mediocre at all of them. The technology is pretty much there already and the first company to finally put it together will make billions.
March 13, 2007 3:14:37 AM

Quote:
I'm looking forward to the mp3 player / video player / cell phone / gps / web browser / gaming device. Once they can get something that does each of those things well and is about the size of a current cell phone (possibly larger because of a larger screen, but certainly not thicker), then I think that handhelds will have reached maturity. Right now, my midrange cell phone can do all of those things, but is mediocre at all of them. The technology is pretty much there already and the first company to finally put it together will make billions.

Look for the HP hw6945 cell phone. It's a 4 band cell-phone (GPRS/GSM), wifi-bluetooth, PPC (with web-browser, media player, etc), GPS (with Microsoft streets), camera (still, video, webcam), mini-SD storage. UNLOCKED!.
I'm waiting for the Windows Mobile 6.0 with an enhanced browser (at least better than Netscape 2.0). I also need a video-out, full SD-slot, and accerated 3-D.
March 13, 2007 3:22:02 AM

Quote:
I have that Archos, the AV500, 100G drive too!

Nice big screen, but kind of clunky because of teh thickness needed for a screen on top of a laptop HD on top of a Ni-Cd battery as large as the player (14 hours MP3 playtime and 4hours of video).

One thing thought, Archos came out with eth "Jukebox 20" at about the same time as many other HD devices (music only) but there is no mention of it here.

It was rather ungainly, with blue "bumpers" no the ends, but it also hooked up USB and was seen as an external HD (made managing VERY easy and also allowed you to play your music on resident programs on computers that you had at work or home).

There was one out slightly before that one, and it may be the one they mentioned, but the thing looked like a plastic brick, and had the functionality of a 3 legged ceiling fan.

It would be interesting to see how much smaller they can make these things, but also keep in mind that not everyone is an Ipod-idjit (sorry guys, they are great, but they charge a LOT of money for things you can get on other players for much less, provided you know how to use a USB connection.. ;)  ).

The things that are needed now are:

-Slim size (which should get there if they get the CF cards over 40G so they can store full movies at high enough res to export to a regulat TV)

-Interconnectivity (keep it simple! External HD interface is fine for most, let the people use the Itunes or Creative Manager only if they want/need to!)

-MEDIA interconnectivity (I doubt you will have an HDTV portable, but making it so you can playback at least SVID quality video over the machine is really handy. I also found that picture slideshow stuff was GREAT on my camera during ski-trip afterparties. Media players that can upload pics and play them on a larger media device would be great!)

-MULTImedia (Being able to play music, video, or do slideshows is really handy)

-NETWORKING (Although this is a battery gobbler, wireless networking would be really handy. Whether it is to replace the USB connection, or actually enable them to surf one day, this is something to look into.)

And that is about it. All other things would fall under categories of services rather than actual needed things for the devices...

Although other considerations like convenient portability (cases and clips that work!), Ease of use (Menus that would also include editing on the fly, like dumping unwanted songs to a trash folder that could be emptied on confirmation), and better accessories included as a default (Better earphones. Getting a $300 Ipod or more, you shoul get better than "Radio Shack" ear-buds.).

Lets see what will happen. I was unfortunate to jump on the MD train, only to hit a wall when they did, but, hopefully, there will be better waiting for us within our price ranges when the time comes.

And hopefully the RIAA won't be caling ALL the shots or half of what we spend on all of this will be for the corporations licensing and not the actual technology that is in the product!

I think you'll get what you want once flash memory (one stick) goes more than 16 gig. I expect this will happen this decade when flash memory reaches 45nm (no links, but makes sense)
March 13, 2007 2:11:33 PM

for sure all this high tech has resulted in a lot of interesting design projects for engineers & organizations like Apple.

but, comparing these toys & tools to the toys of 30 years ago - when i was in high-school, "thrills" meant turning on some decent music & driving around with your friends.

what's the difference ? i would say driving around with an 8-track blasting is as much fun as driving around with a CD player or iPod blasting.
March 13, 2007 3:18:35 PM

Quote:
for sure all this high tech has resulted in a lot of interesting design projects for engineers & organizations like Apple.

but, comparing these toys & tools to the toys of 30 years ago - when i was in high-school, "thrills" meant turning on some decent music & driving around with your friends.

what's the difference ? i would say driving around with an 8-track blasting is as much fun as driving around with a CD player or iPod blasting.

It also helps to have music as good as 30 years ago. Actually music now really sucks.
March 14, 2007 3:36:52 AM

I used a HP6315 for several years. Amazing everything that I could do with it. You might want to try the HTC TyTN. Cingular is currently selling it as their 8525 model.

I've always said for years that pocket PC devices were ahead of everything else as being a portable AV playback device. Just go back to the old iPAQ's and you will see how much they were already capable of.

The TyTN is basically your portable AV player, cellphone, PDA, camera & broadband wireless device all rolled into one. It's cool walking around outside while you're in the middle of a video conference (and seeing everybody else stuck at their desks inside), and the high speed data makes email and web fun to use.

I won't say windows mobile is perfect, but the os is getting better, the devices are becoming smaller and smarter, and the storage barrier has come down tenfold. Just compare an old 1GB microdrive to the latest microSD cards - 2GB on your pinky's fingernail!

Incidentally, I've learned how to fit around 15 full-length movies onto a single 2GB card - that's plenty to keep me entertained on that boring 14 hour flight. Those folks who say pocket PC phones are dumb simply don't know what they're missing out on.
March 14, 2007 5:36:35 AM

Quote:
I used a HP6315 for several years. Amazing everything that I could do with it. You might want to try the HTC TyTN. Cingular is currently selling it as their 8525 model.

I've always said for years that pocket PC devices were ahead of everything else as being a portable AV playback device. Just go back to the old iPAQ's and you will see how much they were already capable of.

The TyTN is basically your portable AV player, cellphone, PDA, camera & broadband wireless device all rolled into one. It's cool walking around outside while you're in the middle of a video conference (and seeing everybody else stuck at their desks inside), and the high speed data makes email and web fun to use.

I won't say windows mobile is perfect, but the os is getting better, the devices are becoming smaller and smarter, and the storage barrier has come down tenfold. Just compare an old 1GB microdrive to the latest microSD cards - 2GB on your pinky's fingernail!

Incidentally, I've learned how to fit around 15 full-length movies onto a single 2GB card - that's plenty to keep me entertained on that boring 14 hour flight. Those folks who say pocket PC phones are dumb simply don't know what they're missing out on.

I agree, PPCs are not just "orginizers". I've also seen how much better & cheaper the carriers & phones are in Asia (the cell phone is THE internet connection, hurts to just describe it)- don't get me started on Cingular-Sprint-TMoble. :twisted:
March 14, 2007 5:25:45 PM

Great article Mary! Thanks!
March 16, 2007 5:20:47 PM

I had that feeling too; as well as wanting to fit in earlier devices, I found when I looked at more recent digital media developments that it was often refinement rather than innovation, commodisation and lower prices rather than significant change. Convergence of features is the really big development - a GPS/MP3 player like the Pocket LOOX or a GPS/MP3/phone/PDA like the HP Mobile Messenger or the Sony Ericsson Walkman phones are pushing the envelope more than many dedicated media devices (although I still see devices that impress me).

Mary Branscombe
!