By eweek  |  Posted 2003-04-22 Print this article Print

-Forwarding Past Media2Go"> Apart from a few vertical applications, though, there just isnt widespread enough interest in making your own video portable. There is, however, great interest in making commercial content, such as TV shows and movies, portable, as evidenced by the increasing popularity of, for example, in-car video systems. The dilemma with Media2Go is that, as a Windows "accessory," it expects compelling video content to be on the PC, where its not. This is in contrast to portable MP3 players, which took off only after there was already a significant amount of music on the PC—often pirated—that consumers wanted to take with them. Pirated movies and TV shows are available on the Net, but there was never the Napster-fueled free-for-all that would allow many people to build up their collections; and, even with broadband, downloading even a television show is not worth the time for the average consumer. Unlike music, which is often experienced repeatedly, most video content is watched and then discarded or at least shelved ("Rocky Horror" fans notwithstanding).
Thats not to say that mobile video devices wont work without rampant piracy. On the other hand, the video that consumers actually want today on their TVs or VCRs is recordable only via an analog connection, i.e., RCA cables. In addition to adding expense to the players for input and encoding, recording analog video must happen in "real time." This means that you could take a round-trip flight to the Amazon before transferring a season of "Survivor." Despite this, the Archos product can capture analog video with an adapter and the 20GB RCA LYRA Audio/Video Jukebox slated for later this year seems to show much promise by also hedging its bets with its 3.5" LCD. Burning DVDs could also be an option as this process gets faster, but that would place constraints on the size of the players.
The solution is to pop a high-speed digital interface onto a hard-disk-based recorder meant to sit by the television, not the PC. The natural company to bring something like this to market would be TiVo, but the companys paranoia about alienating the studios has kept a "Tivette" on the shelf along with a model with an integrated DVD recorder (or even player). TiVo also blew a chance to add a high-speed digital port that would facilitate this kind of transfer when it shipped the Series 2, which supports only USB 1.1. In contrast, ReplayTV had the much faster IEEE 1394 interface on its first model and had been widely rumored to be developing a portable video player before SonicBlues implosion. The Game Boy did it for videogames, and the Rio and progeny did it for music. Digital video will go mobile. The only question is, which company will remember that content is king even in the smallest of palaces? Will you move in for the closeup on mobile video, or is this just another pipe-dream rerun? E-mail me. Wireless Supersite Editor Ross Rubin is a senior analyst at eMarketer. He has researched wireless communications since 1994 and has been covering technology since 1989. More from Ross Rubin:


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