I like these players because they can store and play back music and slide shows; some play video, plus I can use a portable player almost anywhere.

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Today, we’ll look at the last of the five portable multimedia players I’ve been using. So far, we’ve covered the Apple iPod Photo (Jan. 29), Epson P-2000 and Olympus m:robe (Feb. 26).

I like these players because they can store and play back music and slide shows; some play video, plus I can use a portable player almost anywhere.

For example, after I photograph my daughter and others training at the USA Karate dojo, I organize the media into mini shows, store them on a player, and bring it to the dojo so the martial artists can watch themselves performing.

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In addition, if I were a real-estate agent, artist, actor, teacher or other professional who could use one of these players as a house viewer, portfolio, demo of acting or teaching ability, for example, I’d have a really good excuse to own one.


Editor’s note



This column was scheduled to run last Saturday. As a result of an editing error, an old column was mistakenly run in its place. We apologize for the confusion that may have created.


So be dreaming up your good reason while I tell you about the last two players and then pick a favorite.


Archos AV400:

The Archos Pocket Video Recorder AV400 (20 GB, $500, Windows/Mac) plays back music, photos, slide shows, video, recorded TV shows and movies.

It has a 3.5-inch screen, built-in speaker and a Compact Flash memory-card reader for transferring photos (use an adapter for other cards).

To transfer media files from a computer, connect the player, open the icon that appears on the computer screen and drag music, photo and video files over to it. The Archos can read MP3, WMA and WAV audio formats, JPEG and BMP photo formats and MPEG-4 and AVI video files.

If you use Windows Media Player (WMP) 10 to organize music, photos and video on your PC, you can auto sync those media files to the player.

The AV400 has two main sets of controls, and some have double functions that can be confusing. But once memorized, there are multiple options at your fingertips.

The home screen displays icons for nine menu choices. Press Photo, for example, to look at the photos on the player, and then use submenus to make playlists and slide shows.

Press AudioCorder to record audio with the built-in microphone or to record from a stereo system after connecting them with the included RCA cables. Press VideoCorder to record video from the TV, VCR or cable/satellite tuner after connecting them with the RCA cables and TV Cradle.

All in all, it’s a capable little player that’s designed for digital media enthusiasts.


Creative Zen PMC:

The Creative Zen Portable Media Center (20 GB, $500, Windows) stores and plays back music, photos, slide shows, home video, recorded TV shows and movies. It has a sizable 3.8-inch screen and built-in speaker, plus the menu choices, navigation and player controls are clear and easy to use.

The Zen is designed to work with Windows Media Center PCs; however, all functions except TV recording work fine with a PC-running Windows XP and Windows Media Player 10.

If you store all your media on WMP 10, just connect the Zen to the PC with the included USB 2.0 cable and permit auto sync to transfer media files to the player (or you can transfer files manually). It can read AVI and Windows Media Video files, Windows Media Audio, MP3, JPEG, and reportedly is compatible with some other file formats.

To watch recorded TV on the Zen, you need a Windows XP Media Center Edition PC or additional equipment that includes a TV tuner card and digital video-recording software. (Alternatively, TiVo has a TiVoToGo service that enables subscribers to transfer recorded shows to a PC, which can be transferred to the Zen.)

The photos, slide shows and video look good. But to find out how to do something as basic as change the slide-show settings, I have to download a more complete user’s manual, which should have come in the box.

In sum, the Zen is a capable media player and ideal for those with a Media Center PC.


Results of the trials:

That makes five players total, and enough information for me to choose the player I would own, if I had the $500.

First, if I want to watch recorded TV on a portable player, there are two choices out of the five I tried — the Zen and the AV400. If I had a Media Center PC, I’d pick the Zen because it works well with that PC. Otherwise, the Achos works with Windows XP or Macintosh OSX and has more capabilities.

However, I don’t want to watch TV on a player. I want to watch the slide shows and videos I create. So I choose the Epson P-2000 because the images look sharp on its 3.8-inch screen and the built-in speaker enables me to listen without having to wear earphones.

The player is easy to use, it supports MPEG-4 and motion JPEG video files, and it works with either my Macintosh or my Windows PC.

The Epson is my first choice but it may not be yours. If you’re interested in owning a portable media player, read more complete reviews and check to be sure the one you pick supports the media file formats you use. Then choose and enjoy!

Write Linda Knapp at lknapp@seattletimes.com; to read other Getting Started columns, go to: www.seattletimes.com/gettingstarted