Suggest for me a Portable Media Center
October 17, 2005 1:04 PM   Subscribe

My birthday is coming up and what I really want is a portable media center. I want a device that plays all the major formats of video (without a lengthy conversion process -- this is key) and plays mp3s. I want for it to have an easy to use and good looking interface, small enough dimensions to fit into most pockets and at least 20 GB of storage space. My price range is $500 or less. And forget the iPod Video, as I understand it it will accept only .mov files (but please correct me if I'm wrong -- which I hope I am). Suggest away!
posted by JPowers to Technology (15 answers total)
I've never personally used or seen one, but I've heard a lot of buzz abour the Creative Zen Vision.
posted by gyc at 1:16 PM on October 17, 2005

I've had a bookmark to the TViX for a while now. I've not quite managed to justify purchasing one, but they certainly look cool. Then, there's this thing and thist too. They all look like fun gadgets that do what you're looking for. I think you have to provide the hard drive for those last two.

No firsthand experience with any of the products or vendors linked to, but if I ever find myself with a few hundred dollars burning a hole in my pocket I might pick one up.
posted by mragreeable at 1:17 PM on October 17, 2005

Just a side note, the ipod video plays mpeg4 and h.264
posted by EvilKenji at 1:21 PM on October 17, 2005

Happy Birthday! Does the Mustek PVR-H140 flip your switch?
posted by Kibbutz at 1:23 PM on October 17, 2005

Like gyc I've never used a Creative Zen Vision, but the guys kinda gushed about it on their last podcast when comparing it to the new (video enabled) iPod.
posted by soplerfo at 1:25 PM on October 17, 2005

Does the Creative Zen Vision player playback divx, xvid, or any sort of random avi formats I might find online? I thought all the video devices on the market were tied to one vendor's stringent DRM (apple's or microsoft's) and you could only upload those sorts of files to the device.
posted by mathowie at 2:32 PM on October 17, 2005

Matt, according to Engadget, the Creative Zen Vision plays MPEG2, MPEG4, DivX, XviD, WMV, and MJPEG, if that helps.
posted by Heminator at 2:49 PM on October 17, 2005

Yes, everyone I've spoken to is raving about the Zen Vision. From this page:

Zen Vision supports many video formats, such as AVI, DivX™ 4 & 5, XviD, MPEG-1, MPEG-2, MPEG4-SP, WMV9 and Motion-JPEG. 30Gb hard drive.

I'm getting one next time I'm in the States. Yay for the weak dollar.
posted by blag at 2:52 PM on October 17, 2005

Just got an ad email for the Creative Zen Portable Media Center selling for 199.00 after rebate. (at buy dot com). Huge rebate though.
posted by crack at 3:01 PM on October 17, 2005

But the Zen Vision won't work with OSX, will it?
posted by bshort at 3:28 PM on October 17, 2005

There's also the Archos AV500, which has a killer screen and is apparently powerful shiny. Unfortunately, it doesn'tseem to play Xvid, which would be a dealbreaker for me.
posted by selfnoise at 3:44 PM on October 17, 2005

And while the Archos AV500 is good at playing videos, it's appalling for music. Its music playlisting abilities are atrocious and compared to the iPod video it's rather hefty in size.
posted by skylar at 3:51 PM on October 17, 2005

I'm panting at the idea of getting a Zen Vision, myself. Unfortunately, it doesn't seem to have been formally released just yet, although a few are showing up on ebay (primarily from Great Britain). Are you willing to wait a bit? Word is it will be out by the end of October.

Oh, and early happy birthday!
posted by mkhall at 4:03 PM on October 17, 2005

But the Zen Vision won't work with OSX, will it?

I don't think it does.
posted by danb at 8:32 PM on October 17, 2005

I've had an Archos Gmini 400 for exactly a year. A recent firmware update has allowed it to play almost any kind of video file I've thrown at it, except .mov files. As noted above, the playlisting capability is woeful, but that doesn't bother me as I prefer listening to whole albums, and it's all drag and drop, no fussing with middleware.
The only thing wrong with it is that I'm nervous carrying it about - it feels, but isn't, fragile. Overall, and for the price I paid, I've been delighted with it.
posted by punilux at 1:04 AM on October 18, 2005

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