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Portable Video Players at CES 2005


Archos PMA430

Archos PMA430

The introduction of portable video players in the last year or so has created a slowly more popular segment of the portable entertainment sector. This was evident this year at CES 2005 as several companies unveiled new portable video players with larger hard drive sizes, better screens and more battery time. Check out some of the new product announcements below to see what companies have in store in the portable video player market for 2005.

PQI is a relatively unknown company to most mainstream consumers. That didn’t stop them however from taking a plunge into the portable video player market with the unveiling of their mPack P800. This player, which comes in 40 GB ($599) and 80 GB ($689) models, is available now.

The mPack P800 is what PQI is describing as the most advanced product in portable video players. The mPack P800 does indeed have some very advanced features, including support for the Sony/Philips Digital Interface Format. This interface connection allows the player to pump out 5.1 surround sound through speakers hooked to a DTS receiver.

In regards to support of music, video and photo file formats, the mPack 800 offers a wide range of coverage. Videos encoded in MPEG 1, 2, 4, XviD and ASF, among others, are playable on the device’s 3.5 inch color LCD. In the audio realm, MP3, WMA, AC3, AAC and WAV music types can be heard. Photo types supported include JPEG, GIF, BMP and PNG.

The mPack P800, as some of its other features, also offers FM radio listening and recording, USB 2.0 high speed file transfer, live video (i.e. TV or DVD) recording and playback at up to 30 frames per second, voice recording, personal information management, on screen photo display and a built in Compact Flash card reader.

PQI’s new portable video player, which runs on rechargeable batteries, comes with a wide variety of equipment included, including 70 mW ear buds, two different types of remote controls and a large carrying case with room for all necessary wires and accessories.

Archos is considered by many to be the forerunner of the portable video player market. It comes as no surprise then that their new PMA430 Pocket Media Assistant is raising a lot of eyebrows with its combination of good looks and useful features. The PMA430 is priced at $799.95 and expected to be available this month.

Archos has attempted to make the 30 GB PMA430 an "all things to all people" type of device. Feature highlights include the ability to record and play up to 120 hours of video from a source such as a television or VCR, record and play MP3 and WMA music files, store and view image files like JPEG and GIF, play video games, connect to a wireless network, act as a USB hub for your computer and function as a personal information manager for applications like address book and calendar.

Many functions of the PMA430, which runs on an open ended Linux platform, are controlled through the color LCD touch screen and stylus. Equipment included with the PMA430 includes a cradle to connect it to a television, remote control, headphones and universal power plugs.

Archos also announced they would be joining Microsoft’s PlaysForSure program, which promotes compatibility with Windows Media Player 10. This will expand the amount of licensed content which devices like the PMA430 can legally play.

Mustek, a company better known for their scanners, dipped their toes into the portable video players ocean with the announcement of their PVR-H140. This unit at the time of CES had no set price and was scheduled to be available sometime this year.

The PVR-H140, which houses a 40 GB hard drive, looks much like any other portable video player, weighing 6.4 pounds and measuring 4.3” by 3.2” by 1.2”. It sports a 3.6” color screen which can be used for viewing MPEG movies and JPEG picture files. Audio playback is offered for MP3, WMA and WAV files as well.

Other key features of the PVR-H140 include video and voice recording, a built in MMC/SD card slot, Outlook synchronization with a built in PIM manager and portable file storage.

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