Market switches on to all-in-one media players

Portable media players are about to flood the Australian market as distributors enthusiastically launch a raft of market entries.

The handheld devices, which also go under the titles of Pocket Video Recorder or Portable Media Centre (for Microsoft-based devices), offer video, photo and music playback via hard drive-based storage, with a minimum of 20GB in most models.

Adding to the hype, Microsoft will help promote partner devices based on the launch of its Windows Media Centre.

Creative Labs has joined the market fray with its Zen Portable Media Centre, the first player based on Media Centre in Australia. However, French rival, Archos, distributed by iTech International, was the first to market.

Archos' AV300 video recorder has been available locally since early this year. It was followed by the AV400 model last month.

Archos AV400

Demand for the players had been strong, winning the distributor several new customers, iTech national sales manager, Peter Honey, said.

"The first shipment was gone three days after it arrived," he said. "The same happened with the second, and we're now waiting on the third shipment."

Distributors of iRiver, CR Kennedy, had also been inundated with requests for the players.

"We got the sample in two days ago and the dealers have gone berserk over it," iRiver product manager, Danny Bejanoss, said.

"The problem is not going to be selling them, it's going to be stocking them and getting supply."

iRiver has three players, two based on Linux, and a Media Centre device.

The Linux-based PMP120 and PMP140 players will be available locally in about six weeks, according to Bejanoss.

A release date for the Media Centre device has not been announced.

The $1000 price point for most players would be a lucrative one for resellers, he said.

"You can make decent margins on these, unlike [Apple] iPods where you rely on accessories," Bejanoss said.

Among the raft of new market arrivals, Ricoh will make available US vendor Vivitar's DVR390H media player on September 20. The player's key difference to others on the market is its camera module for recording video.

This has a 270 degree swivel lens with 2x digital zoom, as well as standard digital camera functions.

Vivitar DVR390H

Melbourne-based distributor, Prima Australasia, will have the RCA Lyra RD2780 audio/video jukebox available sometime next month.

Samsung refused to say when its Media Centre device will be available.

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