“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