This is definitely my favorite player at CES this year. The design is super sexy and the GUI is smooth and lag free. Jenn reported on this earlier, but here’s a quick recap of its major features: WiFi, Bluetooth, 30GB, direct internet downloads, and support for MP3, WMA, MPEG, and WMV.
The player is still far from final and won’t be released until sometime in Q2 2007. They have yet to choose a name and even brand for the product. It could be AOL, it could be Haier, but I think it would be best to create a new brand. AOL still carries a stigma and Haier is not known in the US.
Read on for my initial impressions, more photos, and a video demo of the GUI.
The construction is very sturdy and the tolerances are tight. It feels like a solid block of aluminum – a bit heavier than most players.
The interface is simple, yet has enough buttons (including dedicated volume controls) to do what you need to do quickly. I am not a fan of touch interfaces but the black square in the middle is responsive and accurate, more so than other touch interfaces. The black square responds to up and down strokes as well as side-to-side for some menu options. It also clicks for menu executions.
The GUI is very clean, smooth, and lag free. It is also simple, but at the same time allows full control of your media. For example, things like deleting media and managing playlists can easily be performed.
Right now the WiFi connection is only used for direct content downloads. There are probably plans for other WiFi capabilities, but they are not talking yet. I know you are thinking, “What about unrestricted player-to-player sharing?” It won’t happen on this player since a major media company is involved. However, I do see file sharing if both players subscribed to a service.
The price is not known, however I am told that is going to be in line with the iPod.
That is about all we know at the moment. This is definitely something to keep an eye on. Stay tuned for more info as it comes in.