AP: Using a ‘Portable Media Center only made me want an iPod Mini and a new laptop instead’

“It was a Holy Grail looming on the personal electronics horizon: a pocket-sized device with a workhorse battery and the capacity to hold hours of audio and video. After all, because people already stuff multimedia files on their cell phones and personal digital assistants, or PDAs, why not give them one dedicated device to swiftly handle all their entertainment-on-the-go needs? The answer will disappoint: The new breed of portable media players is finally here, but the devices are too small to comfortably watch movies on and too bulky to compete with my MP3 music player,” Ron Harris reports for The Associated Press.

“The US$499 Creative Zen I tested, from Creative Labs Inc., is about twice as thick as a PDA, as well as longer and heavier, so it’s not something you’d toss in your purse or pocket. [It and other Portable Media Center devices] all use Microsoft’s Windows Portable operating system, which is really just Windows CE, the operating system commonly used in PDAs, minus some personal information management tools,” Harris reports.

“Microsoft has partnered with a few content providers, and I used one of them, CinemaNow, to buy a documentary on Area 51 and a spooky thriller called ‘Anima,’ for $2.99 each. Most of the CinemaNow titles are B-movie fodder. ‘Anima’ weighed in at 318 megabytes and took about 20 minutes to download. The movie was encoded at 514 kilobits per second, meaning when you look at it on a SMALL screen like the one on the Zen, it’s as clear and crisp as a bell. Any larger and it would pixelate badly, and it did when I connected the Zen to a television using the supplied cables. But if I’ve got a TV nearby, why use the Zen at all – right? …Using the Zen only made me want an iPod Mini and a new laptop instead. Convergence, at least for now, will have to take a backseat to usability,” Harris reports.

Full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: Steve Jobs was and is right. Back in January he explained why tiny video on-the-go wouldn’t work well to The New York Times’ David Pogue, “‘there’s just no equivalent of headphones.’ That is, when you put on headphones and press Play on a music player, the results are spectacular-you get a very close equivalent to the concert-hall experience. But watching video on a tiny three-inch hand-held screen is almost nothing like the experience of watching a movie in a theater or even on TV. It can


  1. I personally think that the best route for apple is to have A chipset (most likely external)made that plugs into the dock connector and decodes mpeg video out to a Television/ display

    give it a year ” width=”19″ height=”19″ alt=”smile” style=”border:0;” />

  2. I think the PMC is crap, you can multitask while listening to music, but can you really multitask while watching a movie on a lil screen. I dont think so…Are we really that TV dependent that we need to bring something like the PMC with us?

  3. I have a decent home theatre system and thats how I like to watch movies. Jobs is quite right, and I’d be spending Apples R & D elsewhere.

    The PMC is just another technological novelty item.

  4. I have an A/V lyra and I enjoy it I don’t watch movies on it but I do watch music videos and TV shows ( I donwload them on the go and watch them when I want, most of the time its when I’m waiting for the bus or on the bus or when I have big spares between classes).
    Although the ipod does not have video yet, it will or at least people think it will because of apple’s ipod divisions new job postings.

  5. Creative is so stupid… How the heck can they release a product that is so obviously flawed. I hope MSFT paid them to do it, otherwise a huge waste of R&D. Steve Jobs is right on this one.

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