How much longer do you want to watch movies on your cellphone? And if all you want is to listen to music when you’re on the treadmill or groove to chants on your daily commute, just buy an iPod and get it over with. However, if you secretly desire a gizmo that can handle a variety of media and tasks in sync with your lifestyle, we’re talking Portable Media Players (PMPs). Beware: These things can burn a hole in your wallet, so it pays to choose wisely. First, listen—if the sound quality is poor, chances are it will perform poorly overall, too. And since these things are portable, make sure that you don’t have to ferret out a socket to recharge every couple of hours—in other words, battery life. Another turn-off can be clunky procedures to convert file formats in order to listen or watch anything on your PMP. Frankly, GG can also do without PIM software like calendars and calculators—I want to watch the last episode of Heroes that I missed last Wednesday, not to look-up the next PTA meeting. The Top 3 PMPs on GG’s wish list…
Sony PlayStation Portable
While this player may be a little long in the tooth, it still remains one of my favourite PMPs, despite falling way off the 15 to 25 year old target demographic. Primarily, the PSP is a spectacular gaming console. Sony’s tiny 1.8 GB UMD (Universal Media Disc—you knew that, didn’t you?) delivers sparkling images, thanks to the PSP’s gorgeous screen, whether you’re playing Grand Theft Auto or watching the best Bond in the franchise, Daniel Craig in Casino Royale. The 4.3-inch widescreen TFT LCD displays 16.77 million colours at a resolution of 480-by-272. The screen is sharp and clear, and the built-in stereo speakers are decent, given the small form factor. The PSP has built-in Wi-Fi and you can play against other PSPs over a wireless LAN or the Internet. With new generation games arriving and a slew of new film releases, now is the time to buy. As far as downloading movies acquired through, er, less retail methods, you’ll need to Google around for some freeware to convert files to a format the PSP understands.
As a PSP owner, the arrival of PS3 will unlock even more opportunities for entertainment on the go with the Remote Play function, which will allow sharing of digital content between the two devices via Wi-Fi, and you can play music and video files from the PS3 hard disk, as well as access the PS3 Internet browser. And now, with the newly launched PSP-supported LocationFree base station, you can stream TV or movies from your home over broadband Internet to your PSP system—virtually anywhere in the world. At home, simply connect your A/V components (TV, DVD player or DVR) and broadband Internet to your LocationFree base station.
On the road, connect your PSP to a wireless hotspot and click on the LocationFree icon to start streaming your favourite TV programmes. Change channels, pause or record on your components at home with the onscreen universal remote. Incredible, isn’t it?
PSP is priced Rs13,490, LocationFree Base Stations start from $160 (about Rs7,000) on amazon.com
The most advanced PMP is the spanking new Archos 704-Wi-Fi, the only one with a 7-inch touch screen with 800x480 resolution and full wireless capabilities.
It offers complete PMP features—video, music and photo playback—with full Internet access for surfing the Web and sending email. The new 704-Wi-Fi features an 80GB hard drive with the capacity to store 100 hours of video, or about 70 DVD-quality movies, as well as two high-quality speakers for enhanced audio, even without headphones. Digital music, photos, personal video, and podcast collections are growing exponentially, but still tied to the home computer.
The Archos DVR Station effortlessly bridges the gap between the PC and the TV. Through a wireless home network, Archos allows consumers to browse their entire media collection from their living room, and listen to digital music through the home stereo, view photo slideshows, or watch video downloads on the TV in DVD quality. Additionally, the company’s DVR Station turns Archos into portable digital video recorders that record video directly from the TV, DVD player or cable box.
The Archos 704-Wi-Fi is priced at $550 (about Rs24,000), and the DVR Station at $100 (about Rs4,300). www.archos.com
Creative Zen Vision W 30 GB
The sleek white edition of the Creative ZVW looks suspiciously like a product from the fruity empire’s design team (it also comes in a shiny black finish), but this cheerful PMP can do a lot more than an iPod can. Name a file format from JPEG to WAV—it’ll play back just about anything your geeky little heart desires. And the 4.3-inch wide-screen display looks pretty sweet whether you’re watching a slideshow of family snaps or a movie presented on a resolution of 480x272 pixels with 262K colours. Bonus points to Creative for including a user-replaceable battery and FM radio tuner; GG likes the idea of not having to send it back to the factory when the juice runs out.
The Type II CompactFlash slot makes the Vision W very friendly for people who like to shoot a lot of pictures. You can also get an optional adapter for the player’s CompactFlash slot if you want to use other memory-card formats. However, photo support is restricted to JPEG images only. The ZVW’s interface is extremely easy to use and operates with the convenience of a customizable main menu. If you have a Microsoft Windows PC, you can also load content via simple drag-and-drop. Supported audio formats include WAV, WMA, MP3, and protected WMA, and video-format support encompasses WMV, MPEG-4 SP, MPEG-1, MPEG-2, DivX 4/5, and XviD.
To format incompatible video files, there’s the included Creative Sync Manager software. One nice feature is the ability to create up to 10 bookmarks within each audio file, and videos resume playing from where you last closed them. Videos and photos look very nice on an external TV, too, using the included A/V cable and the ZVW’s TV-output jack. Though it doesn’t have the option of recording video like the Archos or PSP, it has plenty of features and is easy enough to use to be a satisfying purchase.
Approx. Rs 22,000, retail outlets can be found at in.creative.com
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