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Microsoft's iPod-Killer: Portable Media Center? 407

securitas writes "The Seattle Post-Intelligencer's Todd Bishop reports on what's billed as an iPod-killer: the Microsoft Portable Media Center line of digital media players that 'will store and play back video, music and photos.' The devices are expected to be demonstrated at CES this week. Hardware manufacturers Samsung, ViewSonic, iRiver, and Creative are apparently developing versions of the devices that 'will run a specialized version of Windows CE.' Analysts say that the PMCs will come with 40 GB hard drives and retail for $400 to $700. I got a look at an early version of the RCA Lyra Audio/Video Jukebox mentioned unfavorably in the article due to its size. The size is a function of needing a reasonably-sized screen to watch video. The article has an image of a Portable Media Center prototype. The devices are slated to ship in the second half of 2004."
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Microsoft's iPod-Killer: Portable Media Center?

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  • Archos av340 (Score:2, Informative)

    by way2trivial ( 601132 )
    nice, sweet. plays divx... good luck beating that Billy boy..
    • Archos av340 nice, sweet. plays divx... good luck beating that Billy boy..

      My Microsoft powered mobile has been able to play DivX for almost a year now. Nothing new there.

      The devices are stop-gap measures anyway. Once most folk have next-gen mobiles, there will be no need for carrying a separate media player.

    • My Zaurus 5600 does all that and more and is only slightly bigger.
  • New Feature (Score:5, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday January 06, 2004 @10:19AM (#7890581)
    The Blue Screen of Death has now been replaced by the Color Bar Test Pattern.
    • Artists conception []
  • But (Score:5, Insightful)

    by pheared ( 446683 ) <> on Tuesday January 06, 2004 @10:19AM (#7890584) Homepage
    It costs 300 dollars more. And it runs Windows CEment.
    • Re:But (Score:5, Informative)

      by dasmegabyte ( 267018 ) <> on Tuesday January 06, 2004 @10:47AM (#7890837) Homepage Journal
      Windows CE is not that bad. It's also not called "Windows CE" anymore. But anyway: there are several reasons this is not an iPod killer per se. Mostly because it does not beat the iPod in any of the areas in which the iPod excels: being a very small, very light, fairly durable, tightly enclosed music device with good battery life and a nice interface. MS's stuff is going to be necessarily larger, necesarily heavier, necesarily more precarious unless they ruggedize the HELL out of those LCDs and reinforce the plastic grating over the speaker. Battery life will probably be about the same as a portable DVD player, and if the interface is anything like Pocket Media Player, it's got NOTHING on the iPod.

      In short: this looks like it has exactly the same features and price point as the device I traded in for my iPod, a Toshiba PocketPC. And just like the PocketPC, it'll have limited appeal which becomes even MORE limited when Joe Q. Fancydevice realizes how hard it is to get first run movies onto it...i mean, how fast can the processor be in these things and still keep battery life?

      Still, competition is good for the industry. The market pressure will force Apple to make iTunes even better (and there's room for that). But I don't think they have too much to worry about...a bigass laptop wannabe is NOT in the same league as a tiny little music device.
      • by sterno ( 16320 ) on Tuesday January 06, 2004 @12:01PM (#7891676) Homepage
        I have an IPod, and I paid a premium for it mostly because it is a very small form factor. It is the only hard drive based mp3 player I can carry in a shirt pocket without looking like a complete embicile. The IPod does one thing and it does it incredibly well.

        This won't be an IPod killer because it's going to do everything and it will do it in a mediocre manner. How many people need an ultra portable video player? I live in the city and do a lot of walking so having a portable audio player makes perfect sense. But it would be dangerous to do the same thing and watch video.

        Something for the kids perhaps? Not at $400-800, unless the thing is indestructible. Why would I shell out for that when I can shell out a fraction of that for a game boy that will keep them far more distracted.

        I can see only two valuable uses for this:

        1) Long flights - but how many of us have enough long flights to pay for this and don't carry a laptop along already.

        2) Photo/Video storage on the go - if you take a lot of pictures, it's nice to have a device to store the data on while you are on the go.

        Other than that, what possible use do I have for this device. I've got enough crap to lug around as it is, why would I want one more device?
    • I don't think (Score:4, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday January 06, 2004 @10:52AM (#7890886)

      Microsoft, and many slashbotters will never get this, but I will try anyway. Jobs understands that in product design, sometimes less is more. Steve knows when to make something, but more importantly - when NOT too.

      The iPods works because it is a simple elegent music player that ppl can take with them to the gym, or whatever. Nobody is going to walk around with a movie player. Why would they? Can you ride a bike, jog, work out, watching a movie? - urrr no. End of product.

      Memo to Microsoft - stick with the formula that got you where you are today - cloning and rebranding other ppl's ideas - give up on inventing your own.
      • Re:I don't think (Score:3, Insightful)

        by NanoGator ( 522640 )
        "Nobody is going to walk around with a movie player. Why would they? Can you ride a bike, jog, work out, watching a movie? - urrr no. End of product."

        I might be inclined to agree with you if not for the portable DVD players doing well on the market.
      • Re:I don't think (Score:3, Interesting)

        by Cyberllama ( 113628 )
        You're wrong. There are plenty of people out there waiting for a device like the ipod that plays video. I'm one of them, and I've seen forums and message boards full of other people.

        Sure we're not gonna use this to watch movies while jogging or working out at the gym -- but then again, techie types are not known for doing either of these activities much anyways.

        Everyone has their own reason. Some want these devices for storing photos for portable presentations. Some want to be able to take their video
  • add bluetooth (Score:5, Insightful)

    by mpost4 ( 115369 ) * on Tuesday January 06, 2004 @10:20AM (#7890585) Homepage Journal
    add bluetooth so it can connect to the internet via a bluetooth cell phone and play internet radio.
    • by BensonLeung ( 667506 ) on Tuesday January 06, 2004 @10:40AM (#7890764)
      Though GPRS and the 1xRTT have ambitious theoretical speeds, and bluetooth should theoretically accommodate that connection, theoretical rates of 90+ kbps are just that... theoretical. In practice, these 2.5G and 3G technologies afford dial up performance, if even that...

      No way you're going to get the 128kbps internet radio that most are used to... you could make a case for 56K audio designed to be streamed from a modem, but realistically, from a cell phone you'll more likely to be getting the low end of 20-60 kbps, that ain't gonna happen either...

      Highly unlikely, with the technologies that are around right now, and really, internet radio this way would be far too costly and lousy sounding.

      • I already do this with my laptop and cellphone all the time, I have not had a problem with it. Yes there are some internet radio stations out there that are to high of a bit rate, but the ones I listen to are not, and they come in fine. and as for cost, on my provider I pay $20 a month for unlimited internet. The only problem I have (and this is to be expected) is that I can not get a phone call when I am connected to the internet.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday January 06, 2004 @10:20AM (#7890591)
    What people want is something small, stylish and cheap. For this kind of price I think most people would buy a palm PC instead, which although with a lot smaller storage they are cheaper and can do more.

    Just because it does everything does not make it valuable to consumers... look at the N-Gage.
    • by kerrbear ( 163235 ) on Tuesday January 06, 2004 @10:29AM (#7890672)

      Just because it does everything does not make it valuable to consumers


      I don't think people want a small video playing device. Listening to music is different than watching video. You can do things while you listen to music. You can shop, or do chores, or workout, etc. But to watch video, you have to stop everything you are doing and concentrate on the video.

      It might be ok to once in a while show some video to somebody, but if the device has to be large, then nobody will want to carry it. This seems to be another case of gee-whiz over what people really want.

      • Portable ViCE (Score:2, Interesting)

        by 1015 ( 239564 )
        I think a portable C64 emulation would be a real cool thing:

        - its oldskool,
        - you'd have tons of old games ready to play
        - and at the same time its a brand new toy

        Not that "Color Gameboy" shit.
      • by mesach ( 191869 ) on Tuesday January 06, 2004 @11:03AM (#7891012)
        If it has a CF Slot and allows me to download my pictures from my digitial camera to it, It will be valuable to me. I realize there is a product like this but its pretty much purpose built for that, it only has a few other features.

        If it has 802.11x support, then I can leave it in my car, and use DVArchive to send ReplayTV shows to it, so my girlfriend can watch tv when we are on the road.

        I don't however see carrying this around with me everywhere as I will an iPOD especially the mini that they seem to be announcing. If this thing uses Windows CE then I bet we will be able to use a whole host of software the CE has written for it now and will get alot of functionality out of it beyond the usual video/music/picture holder.

        It might supplant itself to being an cheaper in-car computer alternative, I have a GPS device, and there is Mapopolis for navigation for the CE, hey I mount it on my dash and Viola i have DVD/NAV/Digital Music playback, and what ever I deem necesary, I already use my iPaq for that, it just seems that this has a bigger HD and a Bigger Screen.

        Seems fairly valuable to consumers to me, if you look beyond what they are touting it for at CES
    • but doesn't everyone need a device that crashes more with a far more vulnerable and exposed LCD screen that can crack any time you nudge it wrong? ? ? ? unless that amazing hardware company M$ has a super new screen that's tough enough to be trashed like the iPuck, em, iPod

      look at that thing! its just a pocket pc with a hard drive, which is not a bad idea at all. but to call it an ipod killer is IMHO, silly. it simply doesn't seem to be competing in the same field either.

      oh, just to complete the b

    • Is it me... (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Hogwash McFly ( 678207 ) on Tuesday January 06, 2004 @10:51AM (#7890876)
      or is portable video virtually useless? Like another poster said, music lets you do other things while listening. Also, music sounds virtually identical whether listening to it on an Ipod or on your massive PC rig at home. While walking down the street listening to tunes you aren't being constantly reminded that the item delivering the music to your eyes is the size of a cigarette packet.

      Completely different for video. You actually have to focus on a tiny screen and devote pretty much all of your attention to it (unless you are a woman, we all know how good they are at multitasking). You have to make sure you havent got glare in the screen and you can watch the video where you won't be disturbed (like AT HOME, perhaps?). Music on the move is in easily digestible 2-10 minute chunks. You can squeeze off a track while waiting for the bus or queueing up at the supermarket. Try watching LOTR in 40 odd 5 minute sessions. OK so movies are pretty useless on portable devices unless you are in the same place, undisturbed for several hours. Such as an airplane. If only there was a way for airplanes to deliver movies to passengers while they are waiting for their three hour flight to land...

      What other uses then do we have for portable video? Music videos, maybe? Well you might as well just listen to the music separately. A black man staring at the camera shaking his hands about making kung fu motions with 100 pounds of gold round his neck doesn't add much on a 50 inch plasma, let alone a 6 inch LCD. With music videos and movies pretty much worthless as far as portable video is concerned what else is there that is of any value to the mainstream consumer? Funny movie clips? Recorded video? (we have devices called video cameras for the playback of such video). Porn is one thing that would be mentioned on Slashdot, but as any guy knows, you need to be on your own to enjoy porn. You wanna blow 500 bucks just so you can jerk off in a rest room squinting at what you think is a woman getting fucked?

      So when your next walking down the street and you feel a pang of jealousy seeing someone with one of these [] on their waist, think to yourself, 'What am I actually missing out on?'
  • by westcourt_monk ( 516239 ) on Tuesday January 06, 2004 @10:21AM (#7890598) Homepage Journal
    How can you kill something that has already been so successful? There are enough iPod's out there to more than pay for the development and turn into a nice little profit for apple.. now its all icing.

    Microsoft seems to have developed the generation 2 ipod in terms of features and uses. I would expect Apple already has a generation 3 in development... but i wonder. How long until cell phone companies finally get the hint from RIM's success and build a proper all-in-one? One would think Sony-Ericcson could do that.

  • This is not an IPOD killer. man the new IPOD will have a 1GB drive and sell for @$100.00!

    And I don't trust Microsoft. I never did and I never will.

  • by amichalo ( 132545 ) on Tuesday January 06, 2004 @10:22AM (#7890602)
    The device is HUGE - check out the article image - the screen is just small enough to be annoying to watch a video clip on and just big enough to be too bulky.

    I am all for this type of device, but Microsoft is no innovator. They shoudl wiat for Apple to creat ethe device, then rip it off. What is Bill THINKING!?!?
  • Wrong Competition (Score:4, Insightful)

    by DougMackensie ( 79440 ) on Tuesday January 06, 2004 @10:22AM (#7890605)
    Microsoft's iPod-Killer
    Ha yea, I bet a whole bunch of Mac owners are gonna swap their iPod's for a Microsoft "Portable Media Centers".

    These don't really seem like competitors to the small, sheik, audio-only iPods. They seem like competitors to the previous Lyra Audio/Video Jukebox, and the like.

    • I was moderating this thread but I couldn't help myself by correct you, not trying to get at your as such or be a spelling nazi just that this one stood out. I think you meant to say "chique" and not "sheik". fyi they are pronounced differently too. the former is "sheek", the latter is "shake".

      hope you're not offended at my intrusion.


      PS. micorsoft copying an idea from apple, adding features and making the product worse obverall as a result of the compromises involved?! say it ain't so!
    • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday January 06, 2004 @10:50AM (#7890867)
      >>the small, sheik, audio-only iPods

      The word is chic. Unless you meant to say that iPods appeal only to rich middle-easterners =)
  • Storage (Score:2, Funny)

    A Portable Media Center with a 40-gigabyte hard drive is expected to hold up to 175 hours of video ... or 100,000 pictures, using Windows Media audio and video files.

    Expects predict that an unofficial name of Portable Pr0n Center will be commonplace within 6 months of launch
    • Expects predict that an unofficial name of Portable Pr0n Center will be commonplace within 6 months of launch

      If you pop over to Europe or Asia you will see that cell phones are already offering these sort of features. I have a friend, in the UK, who managed to download and watch the highlights of a football match on his cell phone. And the format it uses is industry standard MPEG 4.

      I didn't look but I am sure you can download short Pr0n movie clips. One thing I did see was the ability to download Java ba
  • Last year's news (Score:3, Informative)

    by andygrace ( 564210 ) on Tuesday January 06, 2004 @10:22AM (#7890611)
    Remember them this time last year - they were called Media2Go - and were expected in stores "before the end of 2003"
  • iPod killer (Score:5, Insightful)

    by ptomblin ( 1378 ) <> on Tuesday January 06, 2004 @10:24AM (#7890626) Homepage Journal
    These things aren't going to be iPod killers. One thing that the iPod has over just about every other hard disk MP3 player out there (besides fabulous design and iTunes music store) is great battery life. A fried of mine has an Archos, and it needs recharging after 4-5 hours, whereas I can listen to my iPod all day at work.

    What would kill the iPod for me would be something with the form factor of the iPod that also had PDA and cell phone functionality - especially if it used Bluetooth to connect to a cell phone headset and either Bluetooth or WiFi for internet access.
    • Re:iPod killer (Score:2, Insightful)

      by peragrin ( 659227 )
      Don't forget Apple already has a device that can make the Portable media center cry. It is called a 12" Powerbook. It contains all the features, is twice as big but has a beter viewing area. and when not watching content, It can act like computer
    • My sentiments exactly. Moreover, how is this going to kill iPods? Its just the competition we need to get more from either Apple or Microsoft. Bring it on! I have a 5GB first generation iPod, and it still rules. If replacement hard drives were available at larger sizes, I wouldn't even think of letting it go. iTunes smart lists are making it easier to stretch the 5GB since my CD collection is over 10GB at 160bps MP3 compression. It is a significant part of my lifestyle now, but its going to take a lot to ma

      • I've got about 60Gb of MP3s on my computer at home, and a 20Gb first generation iPod. Fortunately I've got a script (from "Doug's Applescripts" site) that takes random albums from the iTunes Library and copies them to the iPod, so I can keep cycling through.

        My step daughter has a 40Gb 3G iPod and she's used less than 5Gb of it. I keep telling her that if she's only using 5Gb, she'd be just as happy with my 20Gb iPod as her 40Gb, but she doesn't see it that way. Damn kids and their selfish logic! :-)
    • These things aren't going to be iPod killers.

      Absolutely. One thing that iPods have that this thing doesn't (at least the one in the photo) is style. That matters a lot to many Apple customers.

      Secondly, what advantage does the MS operating system give to the manufacturers? How difficult will it be for the really big electronics manufacturers (Sony, Panasonic...) to make something like this that doesn't use an MS OS? Not very difficult, I should imagine, they already have products that can do all this pro
  • Two words: (Score:5, Insightful)

    by torpor ( 458 ) <[moc.liamg] [ta] [musibi]> on Tuesday January 06, 2004 @10:24AM (#7890627) Homepage Journal


    {Goodbye productivity!}
  • by Tomji ( 142759 )
    When Walkman where the big thing, Companys already tried to copy that success with portable video walkman.

    The thing is walkman/mp3 player are successfull because you can still WATCH THE STREET.

    I see that thing bomb
  • by bc90021 ( 43730 ) * <> on Tuesday January 06, 2004 @10:25AM (#7890636) Homepage
    While Tablet PCs aren't that great, from what I know, they have hard drives, screens, and can play media such as these do... ...only these won't have the added benefit of also being PCs.

    And with "real" (ie non-Tablet) laptop prices coming down to $700 - $800, I think it will be hard to justify less functional devices for roughly the same amount of money!
    • What I want is an "instant-on" true tablet - not a laptop with a foldy screen. Say a 10" touchscreen, decent battery, built in wifi, medium sized hard disk, and an OS that's stored in EEPROM and supports web, remote desktop, and plays media.

      WinCE devices like this *are* made for the embedded market but I've not seen any for the home - all I want is a small "digital book" (now there's a blast from the past!) that I can just turn on and browse the web and connect to my other machines with.

      Just my 2p...

  • A PDA with a small harddrive and the abiltity to play video and MP3s.And WMA. Weeee. Why is this so novel?
  • by Wonderkid ( 541329 ) on Tuesday January 06, 2004 @10:25AM (#7890640) Homepage
    Be assured, if Apple don't launch the ultimate portable multimedia device to rock your world, SOMEONE will. But like the mediocre and confusing MS PocketPC products, failed MSX 'standard' of the 1980s, MS Smart Display etc, successful versions of such potentially ground breakingly useful products can only come from design innovators, not huge multi-nationals who lack the cohesive vision. Evidence? Original Palm Pilot, iPod and Tapwave Zodiac, each (almost) meticulous in their execution.
  • sniff sniff Is that vapor I smell the morning before Jobs' MacWorld address?
  • Really, I see this and the ipod in different markets. The ipod plays music, well. This may play video and music (who knows how well). But the fact is the ipod is portable and people can safely listen to music as they do other things. This looks pretty large (less portable), looks more fragile with the screen, and plays video and music.

    People will still buy ipods for music and maybe this thing for video (if they dont have a laptop or portable DVD player already)
  • doomed to fail (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Ender Ryan ( 79406 ) on Tuesday January 06, 2004 @10:26AM (#7890649) Journal
    These devices are doomed to fail. There is simply no reason to carry around a complete portable "media device." Video should be a separate device.

    People like to carry around a small device for listening to music on the go. You don't watch videos on the go. If you have a need to bring a portable video player somewhere, these already exist. From what I understand, they don't sell extremely well, due to the limited need.

    These devices may be useful to some people, but not many; it's certainly no iPod killer.

    Just my 2 cents.

    • I disagree.

      check out the archos v320 or some such, 3.8 in. screen and a 40 gb portable back up drive.

      With a handy hook-up TO a TV, it becomes essentially a portable Tivo. Once they partner up with someone like Tivo, you can just hook it to the Tivo, download your programs, and watch them anywhere. P2P and a computer works the same way, although then there is a codec converter involved.

      I travel, so stuff like this is very useful, but yet, for the completely sedentary it doesn't make much sense to carry
  • Well.. (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Deleriux ( 709637 ) on Tuesday January 06, 2004 @10:27AM (#7890656)
    Before even mentioning DRM issues and probable lack of good portability between music formats.

    I have I must admit very much supported Microsoft hardware (you can shoot me later) because all the hardware I have ever bought with MS stuck on it has lasted a long time and is made durable and much more comfortable than competitors.

    So I'd hazard a guess the thing will be pretty good at dealing with the bumps and scrapes inherent with portable players. But believe me, if the software is anything similar to the stuff they put on Windows Smartphone (Mobile phone/cellphone) it has got no chance. Straying off topic a tad but them things hang, call people without you asking, hang up calls without you asking, dont respond to cellular events too well (like someone rings and hangs up phone believes the sender is still ringing in).

    So if its the same "specialized" version of WinCE they used on thier phones expect an abysmal effort at software design. But at least it wont smash when you drop it ;).
  • Though it may $300 more, I like the look, I have both an iPod and a Pocket PC and my biggest compliant that the Pocket PC is too small to play video, and my $400 iPod, just can't, it will be nice to be able to take my videos with me. In particular to show other people (as I have a massive legal video archive on the web).

    Seriously I for one can't wait, a even bigger bonus if they make it do normal Pocket PC tasks, and play Pocket PC games.

  • Portable BSOD on demand!

    (sorry, had to be said)
  • by GeckoFood ( 585211 ) <`moc.liamg' `ta' `doofokceg'> on Tuesday January 06, 2004 @10:29AM (#7890675) Journal

    From the article: "Why should we work with another music store when we're working with the Microsoft of music stores?" - Steve Jobs

    If Jobs is not on the ball, he may end up with another Netscape on his hands. They owned the market, thought they were invulnerable, and then circled the drain for a bit before selling off to AOL.

    Am I cheering for Microsoft? Hardly. But they play to win, fair or otherwise.

    When the iTunes service starts to lose major share of the market, though... That's when there will be real trouble. Losing the iPod is a small fish compared to iTunes.

    • Losing the iPod is a small fish compared to iTunes.

      Other way around... They barely break even on the store. They make massive profit on the iPod. In the long term the store may become more profitable but that will depend on the other markets players and their downward push on the prices they pay to the record labels.

    • When the iTunes service starts to lose major share of the market, though... That's when there will be real trouble. Losing the iPod is a small fish compared to iTunes.

      uhm, I thought iTunes exists to sell iPods. I mean that's what Jobs has said in the past.


    • by amichalo ( 132545 ) on Tuesday January 06, 2004 @11:19AM (#7891177)
      In this situation, Apple has created a pretty self fullfilling market place:
      - a device that only works with their music store
      - a music store that only works with their device

      In a situation where there is already a market leader, the above scenario doesn't fly because people have to replace both their digital device and their music store content.

      However, Apple is #1 in digital music device sales and on-line music sales. So the following scenario holds true:

      Person puchases an iPod and loves it, then buys Y songs from the iTMS at $1 each. When the iPod breaks or they want the cooler, newer digital device, they are gonna buy the one that their existing investment of Y x $1 songs can play. Vice Versa, if they have puchased a large library of songs from iTMS, then the only device they are interested in is one that plays their music, else they basically have lost their investment.

      It is a nice little situation Jobs has created. For Rio or Dell or someone to sell a digital device, they hav eto overcome both the iPod AND the existing investment in AAC files. Likewise, for Wal-Mart music store or whoever to win, they must overcome both the iTMS library a user may have AND the exisitng iPod they own.

      The hope for both WMA music sites and WMA digital devices is that the market is not saturated to the point that too many people own iPods. With Apple to announce within two hours their low-cost iPod, the game just went to level ten.
  • People want something small to play music on. This costs more than the iPod, will be bigger and no doubt ugly, which will be the most important factor for Mac owners ;^) With people not entirely enthused by the price of iPods, why would they pay more for one of these media centres? They're going to rely on sales to people who want to watch movies on the go, on a small screen and have the money to pay for it.

    This is the Office of media players - expensive and bloated with features most people don't want. T

  • The Future (Score:5, Funny)

    by Capt_Troy ( 60831 ) <tfandango AT yahoo DOT com> on Tuesday January 06, 2004 @10:30AM (#7890687) Homepage Journal
    This is the future. I've always carried around a book, paperback usually, in the winter I can fit it in my inside coat pocket. When I'm on a bus, or a plane, or i'm just bored, I whip it out and start reading.

    Now, instead, we're going to whip out our portable media devices and watch "Queer Eye for the Straight Guy" instead. Ahh, the future! Behold!
  • let me guess... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Hamlet D'Arcy ( 316713 ) on Tuesday January 06, 2004 @10:32AM (#7890703) Homepage
    40 Gigs, video, audio...

    and 1 hour of battery life.

    I've actaully reverted to my old Palm because CE's battery life is so poor.
  • by MosesJones ( 55544 ) on Tuesday January 06, 2004 @10:32AM (#7890706) Homepage

    Call me silly, but the last thing I want is a tiny screen for video, what I'd much prefer is a device the size of an iPod, or a bit smaller, for which I can buy a screen I can attach. That way when I buy the normal device I know that if I don't want to watch video (99% of the time) I'm not going to lug around the TV screen.

    Sounds like classic "geek feature creep" put it in because its cool... not because it has a point or purpose.
  • Microsoft will be producing a series of devices that are tailored to exactly what the user needs!

    Yes, with their small size, astounding battery life, spacious hard disk, well-conceived software, clean-elegant user interface, and extraordinary low, low price these new Personal Interactive Media Players (or PIMPs) are guaranteed to wipe out the competition. Sony, Apple, Archos, forget it!

    Or maybe not.

    What will happen? MS will collaborate with some small company with excellent designs, they will co-produc
    • Could you clarify just how that user base of Windows users is shrinking?

      • Microsoft's own figures for Windows growth in 2003 was 3%. The main growth region for 2004 and beyond is in APAC, the region with the lowest sales of Windows. This adds up to a slowly shrinking share of a growing market. Much of MS's "growth" over the last few years has been cannibalization of existing users, and this will continue as they end support for Win98 - that's another 28% of Windows users who will count as "new growth".
  • This truly could be the "iPod killer" people have been wondering about for some time. Granted, so far the iPod has that elusive "brand name" and "mind share" - but how long until something like this gains the same mind share with the public? Once that happens, the iPod becomes yesterday's door stop.

    Hm - $400 for an MP3 player, or $400 for an MP3/portable video player? Granted, if the MPAA would allow people to "rip" their DVD's the same way we can "rip" a CD to a series of files we could carry around on
  • Even if they took a 100% loss on this, they would not topple the iPod. It's just that superior.
  • I like this thing (Score:3, Interesting)

    by PenguinRadio ( 69089 ) on Tuesday January 06, 2004 @10:38AM (#7890748) Homepage
    Gibson's Wurlitzer Digital Jukebox [] also at CES this week.
  • If future media devices don't fit that description, they'll never beat the iPod.
  • I want... (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Cpt_Kirks ( 37296 ) on Tuesday January 06, 2004 @10:41AM (#7890770)
    ...a portable, discman type DVD player that will play audio CD's, DVD's, CD-R's and DVD's with mp3s.

    Simple gray LCD display, simple controls. You could listen to music with headphones or plug it into a TV for video (throw in Divx decoding, maybe).

    How about a $99 price point?

    • ...a portable, discman type DVD player that will play audio CD's, DVD's, CD-R's and DVD's with mp3s.

      Simple gray LCD display, simple controls. You could listen to music with headphones or plug it into a TV for video (throw in Divx decoding, maybe).

      How about a $99 price point?

      How about $180 [] and with a color screen?

      There's plenty of portable DVD players. But you're right, they need to drop the price point or otherwise you might was well buy a laptop. If these players had firewire and optical out
    • I was thinking about something along those lines myself last night. I also think a $99 price is doable, especially if you used something like uClinux as its OS, basically you want one of these [] squashed down a bit more.
  • These are dumb (Score:3, Insightful)

    by HarveyBirdman ( 627248 ) on Tuesday January 06, 2004 @10:41AM (#7890771) Journal
    Physical screens will never cut it. Too small, and the lighting is never right.

    What's needed is a wireless link to a pair of goggles (no larger or bulkier than typical sunglasses) where you see a virtual screen the size of a movie theater image.

    Until then I'll stick to watching things properly in my home theater. I'll also maintain my attention span health so I'm not constantly craving electronic stimulation everywhere I go like a three year old.

  • by CrackedButter ( 646746 ) on Tuesday January 06, 2004 @10:41AM (#7890774) Homepage Journal
    1. Release product that is more expensive and more DRM encumbered than already expensive iPod. 2. ????? 3. Profit!
  • by Infonaut ( 96956 ) <> on Tuesday January 06, 2004 @10:41AM (#7890775) Homepage Journal
    Microsoft has been very successful over the years in scaring off competitors and getting customers to wait on purchases through these sorts of tactics. "Yes, in six months, the new Microsoft Widget will be out, then you know eventually it will be the standard. So why buy the Other Vendor Widget?"

    But Microsoft's influence in this market may not be so profound. Apple has successfully moved from personal computers into a new market where the the line between the computer and home electronics are blurred. Every prior effort Microsoft has made to do this has met with only limited success. Witness WebTV [] and UltimateTV, both of which have sputtered [].

  • Lack of /. vision (Score:4, Informative)

    by ObviousGuy ( 578567 ) <> on Tuesday January 06, 2004 @10:41AM (#7890777) Homepage Journal
    It's really no surprise that everyone here is quick to point at the PMC and declare that it is useless. What is surprising is that a group of such 'gifted' people can't bring themselves to recognize any reality besides their own.

    Millions of people around the world commute by train or bus every day. A PMC is designed almost specifically for these people.

    But that's not really where the PMC is headed, if you read between the lines. MS wants to be "the king of all media" and if you could download your TiVo'd shows onto your PMC, you could then watch your shows at your leisure wherever you were. Likewise, as these things grow a video out port, you will be able to playback any saved video on any display device.

    The PMC is not an iPod killer. They aren't even competitors.
  • I see strong similarities with integrated video/tv and all-on-one hifi systems. People dont want to purchase a complete new system any time a new device new gets out. Sure the manufacturers would like that but in an open enonomy the buyer decides right?

    The pc is alright for an all-in-one system but that is not the case with other stuff. We barely stand the pc why would we introduce ourselves to yet onother system that cant be expanded without purchasing everything again and again?

  • by DeepDarkSky ( 111382 ) on Tuesday January 06, 2004 @10:41AM (#7890785) something that is half the price and looks almost as good.
    You can't kill iPod by making more expensive competitors! iPod is already too expensive.

  • Nothing that expensive is going to kill anything except the hopes of its producer.

    If you want to kill the iPod, give me iPod features at less than half the price. I don't need that extra crap, and I don't want to spend $600.

  • Microsoft.... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by tonywestonuk ( 261622 ) on Tuesday January 06, 2004 @10:43AM (#7890795)
    Compare the stability of the following:

    Windows vs Linux (or mac)
    WinCE vs Palm OS
    XBox vs PS2

    Microsoft are moving from the PC space, where people have amazingly decided that a crashing computer is acceptable, to the consumer electronics space, where crashing is mostly unheard of. Either they improve there QA, or people will be returning these back to where they bought them after freezing up while in normal use!

    On another note, the apple iPod plays MP3 and Wav files, in addition to their implementation of (the open standard) AAC.

    Will this box play anything other then Microsofts proprietary WMV... or is this another attempt by the beast of Redmond to kill off competing formats?

  • For one thing, it will play a wide variety of video formats, where simular products focused on a specific format or codec. I don't see it having much to do with an iPod though. This is a video player not an mp3 player. It plays mp3 and stills as well because it would be stupid for it not to.
  • by xutopia ( 469129 ) on Tuesday January 06, 2004 @10:45AM (#7890814) Homepage
    it wouldn't be for video and certainly not something as ugly as that prototype pictures. Damn that's ugly!
  • Battery life. Com'n, video playback? And a hard drive? Before you finish that 175-hour long video collection, the battery is probably on the way to garbage bin due to repeated recharges.
  • Jeeze, it seems just about every new mp3 player with a few extra bells will be the "next" iPod. Besides it looks like a Win CE handheld in a fancy case. Apple pumps some serious effort into functionality and style like no other computer maker. Me thinks there's a few iPods with color screens and Quicktime video floating around Cupertino right now.

    Once someone finally comes out with something to beat the current iPod the Apple Store will be selling something even better. These days Apple never stops their

  • by galego ( 110613 ) <jsnsotheracct&gmail,com> on Tuesday January 06, 2004 @10:50AM (#7890869)
    Here's a few points to consider:

    • It's not a head-to-head comparison ... the iPod does music and does it well. This aims at somewhat of a different market, doesn't it?
    • Footprint: The iPod is pretty much invisible except for the head phones. This looks a little clumsier and larger ... not so portable ... the iPod is credit-card sized pretty much.
    • It's going to run CE ... whose selling point is not rock-solid stability
    • Microsoft has once again seen someone else beat them to a market and they're jealous ... so, if they 'win' (and does that mean 'killing the iPod?), what are the odds of it being by a superior product? I'm not saying they couldn't ... but really .. what are the odds?
    • The MWSF keynote has yet to take place ... Apple's security on new releases/rumors has been pretty good as of late

    Personally, I'm curious to see what Steve his up his sleeve at MWSF.

  • Junk-drawer killer (Score:5, Insightful)

    by hatless ( 8275 ) on Tuesday January 06, 2004 @10:56AM (#7890918)
    Got it. It's more than twice the size of an iPod. Given battery life on other devices with decent color screens, there's no reason to believe these will offer two hours of continuous playback reliably without spare batteries. Or maybe that's why it's so thick and weighs twice as much as an iPod or PDA.

    Even at $400 it's twice the price of those cheap no-name portable DVD players you can get. It's too expensive to give to kids for car trips, and they'd be happy with one of those cheap portable DVD players anyway. Business travelers might like it, except they already carry laptops that can play the DVDs that they already own or rent for $2 a week.

    Any decent content will be pay-per-view and won't be viewable on a TV unless you have a high-end PC running XP Media Center Edition in your living room hooked up to that TV, which amounts to a few thousand people right now. And with Media Center PCs retailing for $1600 or so in a market where most PCs sell for half of that or less, it's going to be a few years before that changes.

    It's as expensive as a high-end PDA but isn't a PDA. It's a second or third gadget to carry around and with all that extra space needed for more batteries, it's not a zero-carry.

    I wish the first-generation licensees luck.
  • Portable video players don't make a lot of sense. You use portable because you want to be doing something else at the same time. You can listen to music and jog, or listen to music and read, or listen to music and drive, so having a portable player that is light and usable with one-hand is perfect.

    A portable video player that is bigger, heavier, and requires you to stop doing whatever you're doing and give it your full attention is stupid. These things will not even make a dent in iPod's market share.
  • PVR funcionality? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by g.a.g ( 16798 ) on Tuesday January 06, 2004 @11:03AM (#7891013)
    I'd actually like it to have a cradle on top of my TV. There, it would be charged and at the same time double as my PVR. If they could pull that off, doing a PVR (TiVo style or whatever else) in a small portable package, they might have a winner.
  • ick... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by netwiz ( 33291 ) on Tuesday January 06, 2004 @11:21AM (#7891202) Homepage
    just... ick.

    that "suggested design" has got to be one of the worst things I've ever seen. I can just imagine what it would be like to hold one, kinda like the Sega Nomad. waay to big, and you can't operate the thing one-handed. Besides, what's really the point in portable video devices like that? I mean, sure, you can take maybe six DVDs along w/ you, plus your music collection, but who watches stuff on the go? If you're walking somewhere, you need to watch where you're going, not some collection of flicks you D/Led. The same thing applies to driving.

    As for flights, most people in the market for that thing are probably going to have laptops, which for the most part serve the same purpose. On top of all this, the price is just dumb. Low-end laptops are about the same price, and have similar enough features to render this device unnecessary. Maybe the uber-gadget-freak market would buy this, but it's never going to be a mainstream item, at least not in my lifetime.
  • by utexaspunk ( 527541 ) on Tuesday January 06, 2004 @11:25AM (#7891245)
    Isn't this just a pocket pc? Why the hell are they always calling the natural evolution of an existing product a new separate product?

    Anyway, it's inevitable that the majority of us (besides you "i need separate devices!" purists) will use something similar to the O2 XDAII [] (anyone know how i can get one of these in the US?) with more power/higher resolution- One device you carry with you all the time that is your cellphone, your still/video camera, and your portable web device.

    ...It'll keep getting lighter and more powerful, and wireless internet speeds will get faster and faster. You'll be able to watch television shows streaming live over the air, as well as stream video from your device live to whomever you want to see it. It won't have to store locally either.

    Imagine the next big event like "9/11", or an earthquake, etc.- thousands, millions of live camera angles and witnesses. Any time a crime or accident is taking place, one can record evidence immediately.

    It would probably eventually get small enough that the camera/microphone would be a brooch (a la Star Trek, I suppose, but w/video, although that wouldn't work too well for videoconfrencing- perhaps you'd have a camera on the device, or your watch, too) and those dorky jabra headset thingies will be the size of a miracle ear, and they'd just mix the outside sounds with those from your device (any idea why we don't have this already?) The display may roll up in a scroll form or something. maybe with a wristwatch interface? people may even start recording/broadcasting their lives 24/7, or have a "blackbox" service that stores the past hour, day, whatever on the server so that investigators can figure out what happened, should anything happen to you.

    Probably by that point we will have figured out how to tap directly into one's optical/aural nerves and implant these devices, or maybe even how to create organic versions of these devices and implant the instructions to build them in our DNA. (how will we ever agree on a standard for THAT?)

    At that point, it may only be a matter of time before our brains evolve to the point where we have real-time sensory input SHARING- one no longer has just 2 eyes, but billions of them. We would become one organism- sharing eachother's pain, pleasure, fear, excitement.

    Once a generation of this new organism passes to where every living human has spent their whole life as a part of this organism, we may cease to have disagreements, as everyone would have the same life experience, the same frame of reference, and therefore come to the same logical conclusions....

    Oh my God! Microsoft IS THE BORG!!!! Resistance IS futile!!
  • by OlivierB ( 709839 ) on Tuesday January 06, 2004 @11:33AM (#7891316)
    I still remember /.ers slashing the Ipod to pieces. "yeah it will never work... too bulky etc...". Yet no that IPod embraces success everybody praises it.
    I'm not predicting success or failure here. I just want to highlight that /. readers have been wrong before and it can happen again.
    Even though I don't like this new device, I somehow have a felling MSFT marketeers will make it as desirable as the IPOD.
  • by crovira ( 10242 ) on Tuesday January 06, 2004 @11:45AM (#7891452) Homepage
    I'm sure that this would be about as useful and sell about as many units as Apple's 20th Anniversary Edition Mac. (50k maybe on the outside.)

    I suspect that its main purpose is as "discourage the competition" vapour-ware.

    It definitely has no place in my comfortable home decor as I use wood and wool.

    It looks like something that belongs __inside__ the 'fridge. Kee-rist Gates, hire some designers with experience in the area you're trying to market to. Its not office equipment.

    Not to mention its from "The Great Rip-Off King's" outfit and none of that schlock gets into my house.

    Actually its __way__ to big. It should be iPod sized. While being way too small. It should have a 50"+ projection area (Can anyone say screenless projection TV?)
  • by sbma44 ( 694130 ) on Tuesday January 06, 2004 @11:49AM (#7891510)
    except for mice (and keyboards, if weird ergonomics are your thing). This will make the Tablet PC look like a rousing success -- although I suspect the SPOT watch will be an even bigger flop (note to engineers who grew up w/ Dick Tracy and won't let the "awesome watch" idea die: we have cellphones now. It's time to retire.).

    I don't think "video ipods" of any sort will ever take off. It's just too much trouble to collect the media (currently) given its low reusability -- people are much more likely to enjoy listening to a song over and over than they are to enjoy listening to a video over and over. The benefits you get for the cost of such a dedicated device are way too low currently to justify the effort. Sure, this functionality will arrive eventually, but as an afterthought -- the way our phones can now play games because their specs allow it moreso than because the specs were set to allow game playing.

    Not to mention the varying power requirements of video vs. audio. Cost will just be too high. I'd say the coming generation of cheap(ish) small factor multi-gigabyte storage will make PDAs a cheaper, more powerful solution for those really desperate for portable, nerd-friendly digital video. Everyone else will just buy a portable DVD player.

Machines that have broken down will work perfectly when the repairman arrives.