Keith Combs' Blahg

Ramblings from another nerd on the grid

How about a new PMP for Christmas?

How about a new PMP for Christmas?

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Every year a new crop of Portable Media Players (PMP) comes out and tempts you to spend your hard earned cash on one.  This year is no different and most of the major makers have tipped their hand and have their product in the channel, or will very soon.

archos5_2009Archos

The Archos 5 Internet Tablet for 2009 has been revealed.  Anyone serious about video is probably already familiar with Archos.  Their players rock.  I bought the Archos 605 WIFI in September of 2007 and would like to get the new one pictured at right.

The one problem with the new Internet Tablet is that it’s pricey.  Checkout the prices at bhphoto.com.  By comparison, the Archos 32GB flash memory unit is $370 compared to $290 for the new Zune HD.  Now keep in mind there are some pretty big differences in the two, but money is money.  So what are you getting for the extra bucks?  For starters, the Archos player has a 4.8” screen compared to the Zune’s 3.5”.  That doesn’t sound like a big difference, but it is if your primary desire is to watch movies and other video.  On the other hand, the Zune HD screen is beautiful and I haven’t seen the new Archos screen yet.

This years the Archos 5 sports the Android operating system.  On top of that they’ve layered all sorts of applications and functions like GPS (add-on), Twitter client, email, games, etc.  As with past players, photos, music and video playback are still core to the Archos legacy.  Archos players support more formats than just about any other player I can think of.  See the complete specs at http://www.archos.com/products/imt/archos_5it/specs.html?country=us&lang=en.

So you can purchase a lean flash based Archos player or the fatty with a hard drive.  One of the cool features of the flash player is the Micro SD slot so you can add memory to the unit.  Nice.  This is going to be a touch decision.

Black and Platinum Family Shot Microsoft Zune HD

I had the opportunity last week to try out the Zune HD for a few days and see how I liked it.  There’s a lot to like.  But the new Zune player is shockingly small.  Almost too small. Almost.  For you runners, you are going to like the small size and weight.

For those of you toting around a Zune 80 or Zune 120 from last year, you’ll be pretty surprised at the size difference.

There has been a lot written already about the new Zune HD screen. The organic light-emitting diode (OLED) multitouch screen and NVIDIA Tegra HD processor are simply killer.  The color, contrast and brightness of the screen is very good. The default setting for brightness is medium and I turned it up to high.  My only complaint with the screen is that it’s too small. I watched three movies on the unit I had and although the screen is very nice, size matters to me.  If your primary use is music the screen is plenty big.

The touch screen navigation on the Zune HD is very nice.  It’s intuitive and the screen responds when you want it to.  I had very little difficulty adjusting to the Zune HD and liked the way the three buttons worked. I would have preferred to have a manual pause button but I no longer run 20-30 miles a week so it would not be a show stopper for me.  A next button would be nice but pause and next are only two gestures away.

There are many more reviews out there that are going to be far more comprehensive.  I think the Zune team hit a nice sweet spot with the player.  Since I watch a lot of movies, I’m a bit of a storage hog so 32GB isn’t impressive to me but I could manage to it.

I love the look of the black player but there’s no way I could live with 16GB of storage with my video appetite.  However, $220 for the 16GB unit is a nice price point.  The 32GB unit is $290 but smart shoppers have been able to find better deals via bing.com cash back bonuses.  Then of course you can always trick out your player at Zune Originals.

The Zune 4.0 software is a nice improvement and I had absolutely no issues installing it on Windows 7 or Windows Vista.  See the rest of the Zune HD features and specs at http://www.zune.net/en-us/products/zunehd/default.htm.

ipod touch Apple iPod Touch

What can be said about the iPods that hasn’t already been said?  They are super popular and rightfully so.  This year Apple improved the Touch models hardware and software, then bumped the flash storage on their flagship.  I used to complain 32GB wasn’t enough storage.  So Apple called my bluff and created a 64GB unit.  Now what do I do?

Like many of you, I have tons of friends and family that have the Touch or iPhone.  My son-in-law has the iPod Touch and loves it.  He works for Starbucks so he is always using his free WIFI account.  Nice.

Considering I already have several Zunes, an Archos 605 WIFI player, Sony PSP, and the Creative Zen W, it’s probably time to more seriously consider the iPod Touch.  It’s certainly a good way to keep an eye on the competition without committing to a phone and ATT.  See the specs for the iPod Touch at http://www.apple.com/ipodtouch/specs.html

I’m going to wait a few weeks to see the new Archos player up close and personal.  They’ll probably have one in DFW airport Terminal D before anywhere else.  There’s a cool little gadget shop there.

There are certainly many other MP3 players on the market.  Some of them are also competitive video players but the three above are probably most peoples vote for the top three.  Certainly worthy of careful consideration for your Christmas shopping list.

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  • How about releasing the Zune HD in Europe :/

    It' too sad really, people are really hyped up about it over here but noone get's it....