Can I have advice on buying a portable media player?
March 10, 2011 7:51 AM   Subscribe

Can I please have advice/recommendations on buying a portable media player? (preferably non- name brand). My main usages will be watching poker training videos (available in mp4 and WMV formats), and reviewing poker hand histories which are in a txt format. Presumably I want a player with a long battery life (is 8 hours too much to ask?) So I'm looking for something that does these things, but I don't need it for anything else, (no wi-fi, 3G etc). Something that will suit my needs but won't cost a whole lot.
posted by crawltopslow to Technology (10 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
I think one important issue is screen size. From looking at some samples online, it looks like you'd need a fairly large screen to be able to make out the small text. If that's important to you, you'd probably be looking at a PMP with a 4 inch or bigger screen, but I can't think of any that could be called cheap.
posted by Busy Old Fool at 8:46 AM on March 10, 2011

Well, there are a few on DealExtreme, if you're prepared to wait and deal with the lack of polish that their goods exhibit.
posted by Busy Old Fool at 8:51 AM on March 10, 2011

I love the Archos 32 and 43. They will give you close or better than that on battery life if you turn down the screen brightness and turn off the wifi. I have not yet found a format they won't play with either the native video app or the QQplayer Android app.
posted by quarterframer at 9:17 AM on March 10, 2011

On sites like deal extreme / light in the box, while they're not cheap, there's 4" pmp's that are at the very least far cheaper than an ipod touch.

around late 2005 / early 2006 I bought a 2.8inch mp4 player for ~$50 that also displayed text files. One of many work-alikes from ebay. I played with the text reader. It was serviceable, but especially with the noticeably less responsive touch screen , and the little amount of text per line, I quickly concluded it wasn't something I'd play more with. The video playback was particular, and I had to reencode everything for the exact screen size 320x240 and max 20fps. open source tools were fine for video encoding. (I will say that I dropped it a lot, (in the tub twice; once it was still on and playing music) and currently my 7 year old owns it, and despite the trim needing to periodically be reglued from being dropped this thing still works as well as it ever did). It would play video for 5.5 hours, audio for about 12.

around late 2008 or 2009 I bought a 4.3inch for ~50 from deal extreme. Like my last one, this was mainly for viewing videos. The screen was great, and handled auto scaling of videos, but for space issues I continued to reencode all videos for it (but now 480x272 and 23.976 fps). The video was great for the time and what I wanted. The text player had more features; different fonts, different sizes, bookmarks within files. But it crapped out for any file larger than 8k (read: ebooks converted to text would need multiple files). I didn't know the exact provider of the hardware, so there wouldn't be any provided firmware revisions. The main system was a rockchip of a version that was suggested not to use 3rd party firmwares unless you knew they were for your exact hardware. video for about 200 minutes, and audio for about 5 hours.

If you go with something really cheap, and not android based, it will be a bit of a crapshoot; I'm unsure just how large or formated poker games would be, but generally text reading in the non-android pmp's really seems to be an afterthought. Maybe an afterthought of an afterthought. Most people will be buying these for video only (like I was) and will only care about video. Heck, mine could play nes games; too bad there weren't any nes games designed for touch screen only.

There are some 4-7 inch android tablets which won't break the bank. I haven't bought any myself. Someday I might by a smartq - considering the N7 or R10, or the next iteration when I have some funds saved up. They're MID's instead of PMP's, so there's a step in price.

If the text reading is a strong component of what you want, I'd be wary of PMP's.

Currently I have an android v2.2 samsung i9000m which I use for videos, and ebook reading. I really like it. But it's not cheap.
posted by nobeagle at 9:30 AM on March 10, 2011

Best answer: Can you be more specific with your budget? $250 is a lot to some people, but not others. I suggest you go to a brick and mortar store and pull up some representative videos on youtube or whatever and see how big and what resolution screen size you will need.

My Nook Color would do what you want for $250. Basically an Android tablet, and will play videos and read text files with no crazy hacking required.
posted by kenbennedy at 9:47 AM on March 10, 2011

Best answer: Is there any particular reason why you care about "non-name-brand"?

"Without all the bells and whistles" isn't really an issue in the world of computers and electronics, and economies of scale rule the day -- niche items usually end up costing more, even if they're fundamentally simpler devices. Basically, the most popular devices are almost always going to offer you the best bang for your buck.

Budget is also a big consideration, and 8 hours of battery life is a pretty tall order.
posted by schmod at 10:39 AM on March 10, 2011

If you're going for battery life, I'd recommend a Cowon. Their V5 (flash( and X7 (harddrive) are made for video and rated for 10+ hours of video playing; I haven't used these particular ones, but in my experience with Cowon, I've always gotten more than the advertised battery life (I haven't had to charge my D2 yet this year, and I use it fairly regularly, though for music rather than video). I don't know if they fit into your definition of "cheap," though; you can get good deals on e-bay, and they're pretty robust players so used might not be as much of an issue.
posted by kittenmarlowe at 11:54 AM on March 10, 2011

I bought this product at my local Microcenter so that my little kid with little hands could watch ripped shows in the car on drives down to Philly. I think I paid 40, but it was a couple months ago. Anyway, the 6-hour battery life is pretty accurate (it lasted the whole seven hour trip last time though the use wasn't continuous). It's simple and cheap, but it works great for what we need it to do.
posted by Mayor Curley at 1:13 PM on March 10, 2011

You can get a Cowon D2 for pretty cheap nowadays, I saw one go on ebay for 50 bucks, and you can add a 16 or 32 gig card for another 15-20. You'll have to convert your files to play on the screen using the included software.

But it gets 12-13 hours of video / 50 hours of music.

But honestly, it may be easier and more worthwhile to just go get yourself get an ipod touch.
posted by stratastar at 2:23 PM on March 10, 2011

Response by poster: All of this has been very helpful, thanks a lot.
I should have been more specific, I am looking to spend no more than 300 dollars.
I don't want name brand, (iPod) mainly because if I buy an iPod people will falseley think I am trendy or that I bought it for style points (I live in China), and I also assumed I would get more bang for my buck if I went for a non iPod.

I guess screen size matters, it really does seem I will need 5" or bigger to view the poker videos that I want to watch.

Android based seems best to me for reading txt files. (Also I don't want to have to convert anything)

So I'm currently learning towards the Nook color.
posted by crawltopslow at 4:08 PM on March 10, 2011

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