Portable Multimedia Players

These days, portable media players are everywhere. Devices such Apple's iPhone manage to pack video and picture playback into common everyday devices, whereas units such as the Creative Zen Vision W offer a more dedicated media playback solution.

Solid state/flash memory PMPs


  • Much smaller
  • Lighter
  • More durable
  • Quicker operation speeds
  • Wide variety of brands and models available


  • Little screens on the smaller models, so better for photos than video
  • Generally higher cost per MB of storage
  • Less built-in features

There's now a large range of solid state/flash memory-based PMPs on the market. They are called solid state because they contain no moving parts (such as CD or hard drive mechanisms), instead they use flash memory or onboard RAM to store files

AStone's Xinc AV range of solid-state PMPs feature a 1.2in, 260,000 colour display, FM radio and memory sizes of 512MB ($289) and 1GB ($379).

In years past it was usually the case that hard drive-based players were your only option for a media player, with flash players relegated to basic music and radio duties. However as technology in both storage and screen development has improved, we've seen a new breed of flash players hit the market with full video playback. These days storage medium is no longer a limiting factor.

Do keep in mind, however, that at the current time, flash memory storage capacity doesn't quite match up to its hard drive brethren. You can get anything from a fairly tiny 256MB to a robust 4GB or 8GB player. There is even a sprinkling of 16GB flash players hitting the market right now and the capacities will only continue to grow, but for the moment if you want 30GB or more of space you'll need to look beyond solid state players.

The flip side to this is that because they contain no moving parts and are highly compact, solid-state players are more durable and perfect for use when you're exercising. They are also considerably smaller, making them ideal travelling companions. Screen sizes on solid state PMP models start at around a tiny 0.5in and go up to between 1.8- 2.5in or more.

Solid-state PMPs usually have the highest cost per megabyte -- so choose your initial capacity and expandability options carefully.

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