PORTABLE MEDIA PLAYER REVIEWS

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Mark Fleischmann Posted: Jul 05, 2006 1 comments
Hearing the world in black and white.

I'm equally happy with my iPod nano and my IBM Windows PC. So, please don't mistake me for one of those sycophants who never has a bad word to say about Steve Jobs or a good one to say about Bill Gates. The little iPod nano has earned my admiration simply by being a good companion. When I'm not plugged into it, I hardly notice it. When I am, it's easy to get along with and rather entertaining.

Chris Chiarella Posted: Feb 11, 2008 0 comments
It's all been leading up to this.

Airport crowds, metal detectors, ticket prices, and malodorous seat neighbors notwithstanding, now is a really good time to be a commuter.

Chris Chiarella Posted: Nov 16, 2012 2 comments
Apple has redesigned and added features to the ever-evolving iPod touch 5G and iPod nano 7G. Lighter and slimmer than its predecessor, the touch now packs a movie-perfect 16:9 screen, while the nano gets its largest screen ever. Read on to find out which one is right for you.
Leslie Shapiro Posted: Aug 03, 2015 2 comments
Apple has just released the 6th generation version of the iPod touch, with up to 128GB of built-in memory and the same A8 processor as the iPhone 6. It’s a gorgeous device with a 4-inch Retina display, all sleek and shiny and desperately trying to fit in. The question is: in 2015, with nearly 65% of Americans owning a smartphone, who needs it?

Mark Fleischmann Posted: Apr 18, 2016 0 comments

Performance
Features
Ergonomics
Value
PRICE $499

AT A GLANCE
Plus
A&K’s most affordable player
Same Wolfson DAC as in classic models
Flatter form factor
Minus
DSD converted to PCM
Less than intuitive GUI

THE VERDICT
The Astell & Kern AK Jr is the least expensive music player from the company that has defined the state of the art in pocketable audio.

Visit the Apple Website and scan the banner across the top: Mac, iPad, iPhone, Watch, TV, Music, Support. Where’s the iPod? You’ll have to hit Music and scroll down a bit for the link to the iPod page. There you’ll find the surviving touch, nano, and shuffle players, but no high-capacity hard-drive-based models or even the iconic click wheel. Apple (and to be fair, Apple isn’t alone) recognizes that most people now use phones for onthe-go listening.

Mark Fleischmann Posted: Jun 26, 2014 2 comments

Performance
Features
Ergonomics
Value
PRICE $2,500

AT A GLANCE
Plus
Native DSD decoding Superb sound Elegant styling
Minus
Jaw-droppingly expensive Bulky form factor

THE VERDICT
If you’re willing to pay big bucks for a portable music player, Astell & Kern’s AK240 delivers state-of-the-art sound with the big plus of unfaked DSD decoding.

Yes, this portable music player costs $2,500. That would buy you 10 Apple iPod classics. Let the gush of hate mail begin.

Look, if it’s a choice between buying this product or, say, paying the rent, or fixing your car, or otherwise keeping the wolf from the door, I’d advise you to attend to the essentials. I know what it’s like to live within limits. But if you have golden ears and cash to burn, then be aware that the Astell & Kern AK240 bids to become the prince of performance among portable music devices.

Mark Fleischmann Posted: Jan 28, 2016 1 comments
Performance
Features
Ergonomics
Value
PRICE $3,499

AT A GLANCE
Plus
Compatible with DSD and 32-bit PCM
Streams to and from other devices
Extraordinary build quality
Minus
Breathtakingly high priced
32-bit capability is irrelevant to non-professionals

THE VERDICT
Astell & Kern’s AK380 offers copious network audio features and the unique plus of native 32-bit playback—but is it worth the high price to consumers?

Shock lead of the year: Astell & Kern’s AK380 music player retails for $3,499. That’s an awful lot to pay for a pocketful of music. But it seems unjust to start a review of such a product by carping over its price before evaluating its merits. After all, not many people muster moral outrage over the price tags on Porsches, Patek Philippe watches, or 99-point offerings in Wine Spectator. Why should high-end audio units—including the Pono, a comparative bargain at $400— be the only perfectionist products to face puritan scorn? No, as a consumer, I wouldn’t pay $3,499 for a music player. But as a critic, I’m willing to consider cost-noobject items on their own terms.

Rob Sabin Posted: Oct 02, 2011 0 comments
Performance
Features
Ergonomics
Value
Price: $600 At A Glance: Excellent tonality • Good imaging • Cumbersome WiFi setup

I've never been a big fan of paying for brand names for their own sake. Build quality? Yes. Performance? Absolutely. Aesthetics? Sure. Ease of use? Certainly. Each of those has value, and it often makes sense to pay more, even a lot more, for any one of them. But sometimes, in the course of shopping for whatever, you encounter an entry from a well-respected or even elite brand that at first glance seems so outlandishly priced you have stop and wonder: what am I really paying for here?

Suffice to say that was me when Bowers & Wilkins first suggested I take a little ride with the Zeppelin Air, the company's $600 iPod dock...

Michael Antonoff Posted: Nov 04, 2013 0 comments
Performance
Features
Ergonomics
Value
Price $100

At A Glance
Plus: Watch broadcast TV while commuting • Steady reception in motion • Works without Wi-Fi or a mobile data plan
Minus: Limited channels • Reception spotty in buildings and locking in stations can be frustrating

The Verdict
Lets you watch TV while on the on the go but programming options are limited and reception is not a sure shot.

Though the picture quality of over-the-air TV can surpass cable, you’re likely to get no reception at all in a moving vehicle. That’s because broadcast DTV was conceived for stationary screens—not today’s legion of mobile devices.

Leslie Shapiro Posted: Aug 11, 2014 0 comments
Just when I thought the wireless Bluetooth speaker market had finally run out of new ideas, bēm wireless announces the Speaker Mojo, a 2.5” speaker cube with a nifty charging base. Sure, there are tons of other portable speakers, but the Speaker Mojo features a wireless conductive charging base that houses a 1800-mAh power bank to charge not only the speaker, but also whatever else might need a boost via its USB power port. Neato. Gotta love a device that can multi-task.

Leslie Shapiro Posted: Sep 21, 2015 3 comments
For most of the country, summer coming to a close signals that it’s time to put away your outdoor gear and head to the gym. In Florida, it signals the best weather to get outside and play. The temps are cooling off, humidity is dropping, and it’s the best time of year for cycling. When two Bluetooth speakers that are water-resistant and shaped to fit in a bicycle waterbottle cage showed up at my house, I decided a speaker shootout was called for. The JBL Charge 2+ and the Scosche boomBottle+ are both next generation products. Let’s see which one is going to become a permanent feature on my bike ride.

Geoffrey Morrison Posted: Feb 16, 2011 0 comments

If you're a Comcast subscriber and an iPad user, make sure you download the XFINITY TV app. While not the streaming app widely hoped for, it's at least partially there. The killer feature is that it lets Comcast subscribers stream TV to their iPad from anywhere there's a WiFi signal. No 3G streaming yet. Before you get too excited, there's some limitations.

Chris Chiarella Posted: Feb 15, 2005 0 comments
Sliced bread, move over.

The exhilaration surrounding established digital audio and video formats tends to plateau over time, until some pseudo-genius somewhere figures out a way to make the technology fit into our pockets, and then pulses quicken anew. The portable MP3 player has become the must-have gadget for the masses. Portable DVD has become even sexier, with larger screens and enhanced feature sets, but a new crop of slimmed-down audio- and video-to-go devices is poised to change everything...again.

Chris Chiarella Posted: Jan 26, 2007 0 comments
It's just so Buck Rogers. Or maybe Dick Tracy?
Chris Chiarella Posted: Jun 05, 2007 Published: May 06, 2007 0 comments
What's the key to portable video? Lots of slots.

The problem with a moniker like Picture Porter Elite, classy sounding or not, is that it conjures up notions of a digital bucket of sorts, compatible primarily with still photos. That is far from true for this well-rounded portable media player. Its roots are in the realm of the memory-card reader, which began its life as a PC accessory and later became a freestanding device with its own onboard data storage. You could insert cards while out in the field and safely archive their contents onto the unit's built-in hard drive, thereby freeing up the precious removable media real estate so you could snap new pictures and/or lens new video. A small LCD let you interface with your multimedia content. To expedite the transfers, it displayed file names, file types, and so on. The Piture Porter Elite uses a bigger color screen and has the necessary decoding so you can view your images and movies. Throw in music playback just because everyone everywhere is listening to MP3s, and you begin to formulate a sense of what this device can do. It also connects to a video source and records content to play back on the go later. Or you can park the Picture Porter Elite next to an audio/video system, patch it in with the included cables, and view all of the content on your TV. You can zoom, pan, and rotate your photos or easily print them via a simple USB connection to a PictBridge-compliant printer. The FM radio has a bold, clever graphic user interface and is a nice bonus. (The included headphones serve double duty as an antenna.) There's even a voice recorder with an embedded microphone and a pre-loaded game: It's Tetris, even though they call it Matrix.

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