Movie lovers who want to carry entertainment in their shirt pockets need constantly-updated roadmaps to pick their way through the daunting maze of “portable media players” (PMPs) that are becoming cheaper and more plentiful all the time.
In the thorough buyer guides found almost everywhere, online and off, tech heads not only describe the major types of PMPs-how they work, what they cost, which ones might be right for you and where to buy them-but tell you how to stay abreast of the rapid changes in “mobile movie” technology. If you send e-mail and surf the Internet, you are computer-savvy enough to download your movie collection to a top-of-the-line iPod-or one of the $59-and-up Chinese PMPs. Some of the latter models will surprise you with their performance and ease of us, at a fraction of the cost of the Apple unit.
As just one example, an amazing unit from China, sold under the “Konaki” brand online for $59 to $79, has a 2.5-inch color LCD screen and 128MB of permanent internal memory, not enough for a movie but enough for a couple of hours of mp3 music. But it also has a SecureDigital (SD) slot and the capability of reading from cards as large as 2GB. (If memory is built-in and there is no card slot, 1MB is a bare minimum only defensible by a claim of poverty; spend the extra few bucks to get the maximum possible installed memory in devices without card slots.)
The Konaki recognizes only one kind of compressed digital file, the Advanced Streaming Format (ASF) developed by Microsoft, but comes with a CD containing a simple and effective conversion application. When a 2GB SD card is inserted into the player, and the player is connected to a computer via USB, three complete, full-length movies can be downloaded to the flash memory. The unit also comes with the cable for TV viewing, earphones and a carrying case, like many of its Asian counterparts. Since it has no hard disc, there are few moving parts to wear out and dependability should be good. The Konaki, besides playing music and movie files, stores JPEG photos for viewing, too, and can be used as a voice recorder, as well. Low cost no longer means low performance.
Search Google for “portable media players” and thousands of small, attractive and downright cheap PMPs become immediately available for purchase with a single click. Shop smart, do your homework, take your time-and you can make sure that the small, attractive and cheap PMP is also a reliable one that will serve you well.