Mossberg: Portable Media Center devices ‘not ready for prime time yet’

“There’s a tendency in the technology industry to think that, just because a product can be built, it should be built, even if all the necessary pieces to make it a success aren’t in place. Sometimes these premature products eventually become hits. Sometimes they just fail,” Walter S. Mossberg reports for The Wall Street Journal. “It’s too early to know which of those fates awaits the latest premature tech device: the handheld, hard-disk-based video player. But one thing is certain. It’s not ready for prime time yet.”

“The most prominent hand-held video player is the Portable Media Center, a design dreamed up by Microsoft and built, with different hardware designs, by three companies so far — Samsung, Creative Labs and iRiver. Based on my tests, I can’t recommend either player for mainstream, nontechie users. This is not so much because of the design of the players themselves. It’s because there’s so little video content available to play on them, and Microsoft’s software does a poor job of transferring commercial content to the players,” Mossberg reports. “By the time Apple’s iPod music player arrived three years ago, there were tens of millions of songs in the open MP3 format already stored on computer hard disks around the world. Most of these were downloaded from Web sites later ruled illegal, or copied from CDs people already owned. No such situation exists for the digital video that might fill up a Portable Media Center. Illegal downloading of movies and TV shows has been much less popular than illegal music downloads. And unlike CDs, DVDs are copy protected, so far fewer people have copied movies to their computers than copied music.”

Mossberg writes, “If you want a portable video device, you’re better off buying a portable DVD player. They can be bought for half the price or less, come with larger screens, and are able to draw from an almost unlimited selection of content.”

Full article here.

Related MacDailyNews articles:
Report: Portable Media Center ‘build it and they will come’ strategy unlikely to be successful – November 12, 2004
Survey says interest in ‘iPod Video’ low; results do not bode well for Microsoft – November 01, 2004
Clunky, chunky Portable Media Center devices are not very useful – September 26, 2004
AP: Using a ‘Portable Media Center only made me want an iPod mini and a new laptop instead’ – September 16, 2004


  1. Well lets just say that PMC’s do Flop. RFID’s Wont.
    So, no matter what, MS Dominance will stay, regardless of the market. Why, Because they’ve got the money.

    “Microsoft is interested in developing applications and solutions against its target verticals,” Koenigs said, “and GlobeRanger can provide capabilities that Microsoft and future customers can leverage.”

    Todd Gage, vice president of product development for Provia Software, told that his company’s participation will help Microsoft make products that better serve developers and end-users.

    “They’ll be better aware of what our needs are and put them into the Microsoft products we use. Microsoft will be able to take our input, address areas that cause us pain, and come out with new versions of their products that will make it faster and easier to produce [RFID solutions],” Gage said.

    RFID Council members will also promote Microsoft’s platform.

    “These companies have existing relationships with customers, and this can extend .Net into RFID and continue to build Microsoft’s presence and dominance across the enterprise.”

  2. Walt is exactly right, I have songs in my 5600 collection that I listen to dozens of times.

    Yet on my shelf are about 100 DVD movies, most I’ve only seen once.

    With the Internet2 downloading will be drastically faster and yes movies online will be available like they are now.

    But the MIAA doesn’t want what happened to the RIAA to happen to them.

    HDTV is scrambled and a certain chip is needed inside a HD TV itself to decode it.

    No way does the MIAA want this “descrambling” to occur on a computer screen where it’s mere child’s play to record using SnapZ Pro X.

    We are all supposed to eventually go to HDTV in the US by law in a few years.

    Somebody will rig a device to record off a HDTV screen, of course I suspect there will be watermarks of some sort.

  3. This media centre stuff is Microsoft saying to everyone “Hey, look, we can innovate too!”

    Unfortunately, it sounds like it’s a poor product (I don’t know, I haven’t seen one), and released at the wrong time to boot.

    Oh well, we’ll see how it goes. By version 3.0 it should be pretty good.

  4. Silly Bill Gates and his piece of s**t Pootable Mediocre Centres… I feel for the guy if this is the best he’s got to offer. He is so off the mark on this one I can’t believe he’d be so stupid as to actually recommend these to people. I mean, imagine being on the London Tube with one of those things – mugged in minutes. An iPod, with different headphones (you’d have to be crazy to use the white ones in London) can be safely stowed away in your jacket or bag.

    If I see anyone with a PMC I’d want to punch them too! (only kidding) ” width=”19″ height=”19″ alt=”grin” style=”border:0;” />

  5. What’s this about being mugged on the Tube ? I’ve never seen any trouble on the tube and I’ve used it every weekday for 6 years.

    Plenty of people sport the white ‘phones with no problems.

    Sounds like BLunkett’s been getting to you. Don’t worry, it’ll all be OK when the ID cards come in. They solve everything apparently.

  6. Sorry Hywel, I didn’t mean all the tube was bad. But people have been mugged on the tube for their iPods.

    You’re also spot on regarding ID cards – terrorism will end the day they are released. David Blunkett can see the future, not the present.

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