Digital Foci Picture Porter Elite and SanDisk V-Mate Video Memory Card Recorder Video Downloads to Go
by Nikhil Burman
The V-Mate and Picture Porter Elite's ability to record content from your TV for use on the go is certainly cool. Also of note in the burgeoning world of portable technology is the amount of downloadable movie and TV content now available on the Internet. Sure, Apple has offered plenty of video downloads for some time for the iPod. But Wal-Mart's recent agreements with many of the major studios to make movie and TV downloads available on their Website is big news. At press time, Wal-Mart's offerings are set to surpass Apple's. So, what's the catch? The Wal-Mart downloads are only PC friendly, and you can't put them on your iPod.
Let's face it—the iPod isn't going anywhere, especially since most consumers are still primarily interested in MP3s. But, for those who are fascinated by the prospect of movies on the go, sites like Wal-Mart's—along with the benefits of the portable devices they work with—may cause some folks to refuse the forbidden fruit. There's a handful of other similar, respectable video-download sites like Amazon.com's Unbox site, AOL, CinemaNow, and more. What follows is a sampling of the PC-only devices that are compatible with these Websites and Wal-Mart's site.
Creative Zen Vision W, $400 60 Gigabytes, $300 30 GB
The longtime iPod rival's Vision W model has a display that beats the iPod's. It is 4.3 inches diagonally with a 16:9 aspect ratio, displays up to 262,144 colors, and has a resolution of 480 by 272 pixels. The iPod's boxier, 2.5-inch-diagonal screen can only display around 65,000 colors with a 320-by-240 resolution. In addition to providing storage and playback of movies, music, and photos, there are several other novelties, including an FM radio, a Flash card slot, and more. The long-lasting battery allows for up to 4.5 hours of straight movie watching. We hope to do a full review of this product soon.
Archos 404 , $300
If you're looking for something just slightly smaller, you can get the Archos 404. This 30-GB device has a little less screen size (3.5 inches diagonal, 4:3) and offers over 16 million colors with a 320-by-240 resolution. The 404 works with a number of cool add-ons, most notably a $100 DVR station—which lets you record directly from an analog source like a cable box or DVD player—and a $150 device that turns the 404 into a camcorder. Archos also makes several larger, similar models, including the 504 and 604, which have 16:9 screens.
Toshiba Gigabeat, $300
The Gigabeat has been around for some time, and it's hanging in there strong. The most recent models have all the video-download compatibility as the other two products here. It is also the only device here (at press time) that is compatible with the extensive Vongo video-download Website. The 60-GB S Series Gigabeat has a 2.4-inch-diagonal screen, while the 30-GB V Series (seen here) has a 3.5-inch-diagonal screen and a battery that plays up to eight hours of video; each is $300.