So Long, MP3; Hello, PVP?
Imagine watching your own videos for an entire Los Angeles-to-London flight. PC Magazine's Bill Howard looks forward to another consumer content market enabled by portable hard drives.The MP3 player market is thoroughly fleshed out, even if many of the players are still somewhat clunky: Try to name all the insanely great players besides the iPod. Its time to declare victory for the iPod and move on to the next big thing in personal entertainment. That may well be the personal video player (PVP), which adds a color LCD to the hard drive MP3 player concept for video as well as audio playback. If youre in the market for a hard drivebased personal audio player, consider an audio/video player. Several personal video players are reaching the market this yearnearly a dozen, if you broaden the definition to include Palm OS PDAs and Pocket PCs with color screens. The two most intriguing mainstream personal video players Ive seen so far are the Archos Video AV 320 and the Thomson RD2780 RCA Lyra Audio/Video Jukebox. Theres also the SmartDisk FlashTrax, which has fewer recording options than the others. And by years end, you may see PVPs based on an Intel reference design using Microsoft Windows CE.
A typical PVP costs around $500 and has a 3- to 4-inch color display capable of 320-by-240 resolution, a 20GB to 40GB hard drive, the ability to record audio (MP3 and maybe WMA) and video (MPEG-4), and 4 hours of battery life. It also has a USB 2.0 interface and, when connected, appears to your PC or notebook as a hard drive, meaning youll have an outside chance of bluffing your boss that this is the road-warrior backup hard drive you really need. (An on-the-ball boss will stamp the request "rejected" and point you instead in the direction of a 120GB Maxtor Personal Storage 3000LE USB 2.0 drive at half the price.)