Intel Pocket Concert Audio Player, Kodak MC3, HyperHyde MDM-H2

Intel's Pocket Concert Audio Player

This player addresses the issue of short play time with 128MB of onboard memory - enough to hold about two hours of MP3 music compressed at a near-CD-quality 128Kbps. A pre-production model we looked at was attractive, but maybe a little too slick - literally. With its rounded corners and egg-smooth surface, the device is sometimes almost as difficult to hold as a bar of soap. Encased in brushed aluminium with translucent blue accents, the unit resembles a large pager.

In our informal tests, the Pocket Concert Audio Player produced good, big sound through the included headphones. Its controls are well designed, especially the raised volume buttons that simplify adjusting the player while it's in your pocket. Intel also promises accessories for playing digital music through your home or car stereo.

The player comes with two pieces of software: its own audio manager - a simple way to transfer music from your PC to your player over a fast USB connection - and a copy of MusicMatch Jukebox to help you rip music from audio CDs.

Kodak MC3

With a purple-and-black case and a vertical design, the Kodak MC3 digital camera grabs your attention. And this capable, if low-resolution, still and video camera doubles as an MP3 player. The unit has a CompactFlash card slot for storage; our pre-production unit had a 64MB card.

To use the MC3, simply flip a switch to select still, video, playback, or MP3 mode (one task at a time); the menu is intuitive. Uploading images is also easy via the USB cable and bundled software.

The camera's 640x480 resolution is sufficient only for on-screen viewing or small prints. Image colours can be slightly off without bright light (there is no flash), and the still camera often blurred moving objects. The 320x420, 20fps video looks fuzzy on a big screen.

The audio sounded full, and the mono speaker and microphone are both adequate. Despite some limitations, this pocket-size camera is good enough for casual audio and visual fun.

HyperHyde MDM-H2

It's no secret that most portable MP3 players are much smaller than run-of-the-mill portable audio devices (such as cassette and CD players), but the HyperHyde player will put even other portable MP3 players to shame. Barely tipping the scales at 47g and covering an area of only 25cmý, the HyperHyde is, indeed, very easy to hide.

The size of the player has been kept down by the omission of an LCD display, the use of a single, small (but expensive) AAA battery and the fact that it contains no on-board memory. Instead, the HyperHyde employs MultiMedia cards and has two available slots that can give the player a total audio carrying capacity of 64MB (32MB as standard). A couple of LEDs give you an indication of what's going on with the player - a green light indicates playback mode, an orange light indicates recording and flashing red indicates that it is recording. The HyperHyde even comes with a built-in microphone, which is very sensitive and perfect for those spy capers.

Sound quality was good and the battery test gave the player a longevity of almost five hours.

What is gained in portability is lost in functionality, however, as the HyperHyde is limited to basic operations and pre-set sound schemes. Even though the buttons are relatively well laid out, thick-fingered people may find it awkward to control. This review model was of the parallel port connected variety (perfect for people with older PCs), but a USB version should be available by the time you read this.

Kodak MC3

Price: $499; Distributor: Kodak; Phone: 1300 130 674; URL: www.kodak.com.au.

Intel Pocket Concert Audio Player

Price: $US 300; Phone: (02) 9937 5800; URL: www.intel.com.au.

HyperHyde MDM-H2

Price: $328; Distributor: Apus Computer and Communication; Phone: (02) 9663 0349; URL: www.apus.com.au.

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