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.

Audio/Video recording and output

Top-level Portable Media Players will allow you to record audio from a line-input, microphone or built-in FM radio tuner straight into memory. Other models even allow you to record TV shows directly from your TV and come with remote controls for a VCR-style setup.

Note that most Portable Media Players allow you to output to your television, but there are few things you should check first.

  • Does your PMP's TV-out support PAL (Australia's TV standard)?
  • Does your PMP come with a dock to make TV recording/output even easier? Is an infrared remote control included?
  • How good does a movie formatted for your device's small internal screen look when viewed on a TV? How important is this to you?
  • Does your PMP allow you to view photo slideshows on the television?
  • Can your PMP's internal screen playback movies that are formatted for the higher resolution of TV displays?

Recordings are usually converted straight to compressed media format files (generally MPEG-4 for video and MP3 for audio) but sometimes you can nominate a format or possibly be forced to use a proprietary type.

Recording audio is particularly handy for recording live performances, making verbal notes or taking meeting minutes. Some devices include built-in microphones, which is more convenient than having to plug in an external one.

Personal Information Management (PIM)

Some Portable Media Players have software extras such as text readers, to-do lists, clocks, alarms, calendars, dictionaries, address books and other PIM utilities.

A player with PIM functions can be a possible replacement for a Personal Organiser/PDA, particularly new models that include built-in wireless networking, plus Web browser and e-mailing capabilities. The Archos PMA 400 series is a good example of this sort of device.

Integrated photo/video camera

Equipping a PMP with a camera lens can turn the device into a photo or video camera. This is a great idea that is sure to be explored more in future, especially on hard disk models.

To date, there are only a few examples and the Megapixel (Mp) ratings remain around the same as mobile camera phones. For instance, Archos offers an optional 3.3Mp camcorder attachment for its older AV300 series and Olympus' MR-500i has a built-in 1.2Mp camera.

The Olympus MR-500i has a 3.7-inch display, 20GB hard disk, can playback music (but not movies) and take photos courtesy of its built-in 1.22Mp camera.

Join the PC World newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.

Our Back to Business guide highlights the best products for you to boost your productivity at home, on the road, at the office, or in the classroom.

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

GoodGearGuide Staff

Good Gear Guide
Show Comments

Most Popular Reviews

Latest News Articles


PCW Evaluation Team

Azadeh Williams

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

A smarter way to print for busy small business owners, combining speedy printing with scanning and copying, making it easier to produce high quality documents and images at a touch of a button.

Andrew Grant

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

I've had a multifunction printer in the office going on 10 years now. It was a neat bit of kit back in the day -- print, copy, scan, fax -- when printing over WiFi felt a bit like magic. It’s seen better days though and an upgrade’s well overdue. This HP OfficeJet Pro 8730 looks like it ticks all the same boxes: print, copy, scan, and fax. (Really? Does anyone fax anything any more? I guess it's good to know the facility’s there, just in case.) Printing over WiFi is more-or- less standard these days.

Ed Dawson

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

As a freelance writer who is always on the go, I like my technology to be both efficient and effective so I can do my job well. The HP OfficeJet Pro 8730 Inkjet Printer ticks all the boxes in terms of form factor, performance and user interface.

Michael Hargreaves

Windows 10 for Business / Dell XPS 13

I’d happily recommend this touchscreen laptop and Windows 10 as a great way to get serious work done at a desk or on the road.

Aysha Strobbe

Windows 10 / HP Spectre x360

Ultimately, I think the Windows 10 environment is excellent for me as it caters for so many different uses. The inclusion of the Xbox app is also great for when you need some downtime too!

Mark Escubio

Windows 10 / Lenovo Yoga 910

For me, the Xbox Play Anywhere is a great new feature as it allows you to play your current Xbox games with higher resolutions and better graphics without forking out extra cash for another copy. Although available titles are still scarce, but I’m sure it will grow in time.

Featured Content

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?