When iPod came along, MP3 players had already been around for several years, and I'm hardly the first to observe that what Apple brought to the table was the whole system -- an "ecosystem" -- for not just playing the music, but for buying it and storing it.
One of the most impressive things I saw at CES back in January was yet another example of less is more, in the form of a "PocketDish" portable media player (PMP) that's an accessory for Echostar (DISH) satellite TV receivers with built-in DVR.
If you've pondered (or tried!) one of the less elegant solutions, such as TiVo-to-Go, or Sony's PlayStation Portable file conversion software, you'll appreciate the ease of use that Echostar has pioneered here.
Instead of requiring a complex transcoding of the DVR's recordings into the PMP's format, the system, built around an AMD Alchemy Au1200 processor, simply copies selected DVR files, in MPEG-2 format, to the portable's disk drive. Whatever elegance this may lack in codec bragging rights is more than made up for by its ease of use. With a USB 2.0 connection it takes just a few minutes to copy several hours' worth of programs.
And here's the best part: The user interface on the portable appears identical to the DVR menu seen at home. The consumer doesn't have to waste any time learning a new interface.
Now that's what I would call a true portable video ecosystem. And unlike the iTunes store, which is now selling subscriptions to The Daily Show and The Colbert Report, and unlike cell-phone video, you don't have to pay a second or third time for programs you're already paying to receive at home.
To my reasoning, this is the first portable video player system that really makes sense for the consumer.
What do you think?
Video/Imaging DesignLine Forum.