Archive for Features

Video Format Guide

videofromat logo Video Format Guide

After getting video resolution out of the way it’s time for the other piece of the puzzle: video formats.

While a nice bright screen capable of high resolution video is all fun and games it’s not really that useful if the player can only play video converted by hand by blind monks. Small players usually need converted files to play, bigger full blown PMPs don’t. there’s a jungle of formats out there and not always easy to keep track of what’s what and what will work with which players. Read on for a guide on how to get through the jungle.

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Video Resolution Comparison

screenresmainpic Video Resolution Comparison

The terms DAP (Digital Audio Player) and PMP (Portable Media Player) are often used randomly regardless of whether or not the player in question only plays audio or if it does other media. With today’s technology the majority of players over a certain size support video and pictures so these terms naturally get more and more merged.

The thing many people don’t realize with video capable players however is that video isn’t just video. The quality and usability the end user receives depend on two things; the screen and the video formats supported. Some players have so bad media support that they shouldn’t be allowed to advertise PMP functionality and resolution is a major player in this game. Read on for the breakdown of screen resolution on PMPs.

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Bluetooth Audio Roundup

bluetooth logo Bluetooth Audio Roundup

Due to working in the forest with cable hating trees for a few weeks a few months ago I ended up with a cellphone with a broken headphone jack. This lead me to declare official war on wires and since then I have been all wireless when on the run.

Going all Bluetooth was certainly something I thought twice about before I started doing. The technology doesn’t have that good a reputation and especially sound quality was rumoured to be rather bad. Since then I’ve tried a lot of Bluetooth devices, headphones and receivers – some of which have ended up on ABi as reviews. Read on for a full roundup on how the last few months of wireless life has been like, with all the pros and cons related to Bluetooth technology.

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Zune Disassembled: Inside The Zune Pad

zunepad main Zune Disassembled: Inside The Zune Pad

Ever wanted to know what is inside the Zune Pad? You are in luck- my compulsion to take things apart kicked in the other day after a bout of boredom. The pics may not be for the feint hearted, but I can assure you that no functional Zunes were harmed in the making of this disassembly. This one was already on its death bed. I would also like to mention that opening up the Zune Pad will render it useless.

Please read on for some great pics and a bit about the tech behind the touchpad.

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Zune = Anything But iPod?

zune abi Zune = Anything But iPod?

New York Times recently ran an article suggesting that Zune users buy the Zune because they don’t want an iPod. The Slate suggests that NYT is calling this “anti-branding” a more extreme version of “counter-branding.” Basically this method of marketing positions your product opposite your competitor’s product.

This technique is used quite a bit; for instance 7-Up openly calls itself “the uncola,” marketing it as an alternative to colas. Business Week points out the more recent example of “Mamma Mia!” as the alternate choice to the blockbuster “Batman: The Dark Knight” for people who didn’t buy into the hype or just had no interest in seeing what everyone else wanted to see.

Is Microsoft positioning the Zune as the anti-iPod, and are people buying Zunes because they’re not iPods?

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Legal Content Anno 2008

legal content Legal Content Anno 2008

I’m now 5 weeks into my summer job and being in a job that allows for using an MP3 player I have been searching around for stuff to listen to the last few weeks. Music is all good and well, but when it’s 6 hours a day 6 days a week you do get tired of your “favorites” playlist rather quickly.

My way of thinking has always been to happily pay for something as long as it’s a reasonable fee for something I can actually use. 10 years after the first MP3 players reeked havoc in the music industry one would think that there’s been some steps made in the right direction when it comes to legal content for our beloved players, but has it really or are we still more or less left to illegal downloading if we want the good stuff? Read on for a look at what’s available in the realms of legal content now in 2008.

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Canola: Portable Media Player UI Done Right

canola.logo Canola: Portable Media Player UI Done Right

With every new player on the market there are a lot of hardware changes and new features to tempt the users. The same can not be said about user interfaces, as these are often half done and doesn’t work as well as they should have. For some this is a minor annoyance, while others rely on the player to be user friendly and easy to control in different situations.

If you have a Nokia Internet Tablet, that problem has been a thing of the past for a while now. A development project called Canola done by several Brazilian tablet users has risen up from the sea of media players for the platform and provided it with perhaps the best interface I have seen on any device. Hit the jump for the full story on how the Indt development team have done what many PMP manufactures have more or less failed to do for years.

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Top 5 Must Have Games for the Zune

zune peggle Top 5 Must Have Games for the Zune

I know, I know, Zune games was on my list of 8 things I don’t want to see on the Zune, however, I have slightly warmed up to the idea. A few weeks ago I played games on the Zune for the first time and while the controls can be a bit awkward there still is some potential for some decent games especially if you are talking about more simple and “low action” games.

There are two key aspects to Zune game play that these games can focus on: Zune to Zune wi-fi and its ability to tap into your music library. With the recent firmware release games can now available to anyone though the XNA developer’s kit. This would be the best time to rally behind your favorite games for the Zune. Here is a list of top 5 must have games for the Zune. What other must have games are on your list?

Update: The new 3.0 Firmware comes with games installed. Please check out the Zune 120 & 16 Hardware Review for a close look at the new Zunes. Also, please check out our Zune Forums.

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Proprietary Cables vs Standard USB

prop docks Proprietary Cables vs Standard USB

Since the first MP3 players came on the market there’s been a constant question of what connection method the player should use. Proprietary cables have more potential, but standard USB is easier and more accessible.

For some this might mean the difference between buying a player or not while others don’t care, but what is really the difference between the two? Read on for the connection cable showdown between the two.

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Celebrating 10 Years of MP3 Players

anniversary logo Celebrating 10 Years of MP3 Players

The first MP3 player was introduced by MPMAN in 1998. It was expensive, awkward, and had 32MB of memory. 10 years later, we have flash players with 1000 times the capacity, several times the battery life, WiFi, Bluetooth, video and a mountain of other features.

Here’s an extensive look back at how we got this far in the last decade, covering over 70 players sorted by release year.

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