Sunday, January 08, 2006

Product roundup - Media players

Media players are a massive sector of the consumer electronics industry, and there have been countless releases of new models at this year's CES.

The Toshiba Gigabeat S-series is a new series of hard disk media players that were announced in the run up to CES. They are based on Microsoft's Portable Media Centre, and are therefore compatible with Play-for-sure technology. Bill Gates showed it off in his keynote:

So I also want to show you another new device that is now becoming available this spring, and it's kind of small so I'm going to walk up here and try to give you a reasonable view of it. This is the Toshiba Gigabeat. There we go, you can kind of see it there.

Now, I actually have small hands, so in my small hands this is a really tiny device. This particular model has a 30 gig hard drive and when playing videos you get about four hours of video playback time on the battery.

And as you can see, it's really little, and one of the cool things about it, of course, as a Media Center guy, if I turn it this way and hit the Windows Start button, you can see that in its up and down mode you get the familiar Media Center user interface, which lets you sync all of your music, all of your pictures, all of your personal videos, broadcast video like my recorded TV shows, and of course videos that I might download or load online from service providers like this one that I have running here.’

On the hard disk front, a new Creative Zen Vision M player has been announced (below_. It has video capability, FM recorder, plus everything else you would expect. Again, its based on play-for-sure. A problem that lots of people have been pointing out is how thick it is, and the fact that it is not any cheaper than an iPod. Phillips are also introducing two new players. the GoGear HDD6330 has 30GB of space, and the HDD1850 8GB. They are expected to be released in the US in the summer.

The Pioneer Inno XM2go was shown off at CES. It has 1 gig of memory, and is primarily designed to by a radio recorder. It is also based on play-for-sure. Sony is bringing out a new walkman phone, the W810. No information yet on what its capabilities will be, but it is supposed to be their 'best yet'. Samsung are bringing out another media player, the YP-Z5 that looks a bit like the iPod Nano. However, it is also able to play video. Sandisk's e200 also looks like a nano killer, as for a similar size it has 6 gig space, as well as video functionality.

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