Sunday, April 17, 2005

Convergence of Media players and Palm PDAs

What do the Epson P-2000 photo viewer (not shown) and the average Palm PDA have in common? My answer is "not enough".

Many Palm PDAs can play video and view pictures, but there is only one media viewer out right now that has PDA functions. It is the Archos PMA-400, and I'll discuss its capabilities a little later. The problem is that there is no device that can claim to be a good portable photo viewer and a PDA. This is essentially the holy grail of device convergence. The new, (rumoured) Palm handheld which holds the name "Tungsten X", for now, tries to do this, and from my angle, it looks like it has alot in common with the Archos player. I'll tell you why.

The Archos player only has one major flaw, a lack of card slots, which are essential for a portable media viewer, since they are mainly used for uploading pictures away from a computer. The device does have USB host drivers, so it can still upload pictures to its harddrive, but must use the camera as the card reader, which will drain the camera battery. It even has a 30gb harddrive, but runs linux, which somewhat takes away from its usefulness as a PDA, since users will mainly be forced to use the included programs, or any written by third party developers (screen size is an issue for programs). The screen is only 320 by 240, or QVGA, the same res as all older PPC devices, so though they claim that it can handle enhanced definition content (720x480, Wide DVD), it can only decode it, not display it in its full glory.

On to the LifeDrive
The Palm T|X handheld is similar for a few reasons. The main one is that it tries to be both a media player and a PDA, but has the same problem as the Archos. It only has an SD slot, and not a CF slot. Unlike the Archos, it is also lacking in storage, though it does hover way above any Palm or PPC device out right now in terms of installed memory with 4gb. This is more than enough for a music player, but not good enough for storing huge amounts of video content.

Will anyone get it right? I believe somebody will, and I believe either the next generation of Palm handhelds, or the next set of Archos devices will find a way to make this convergence a reality. BTW, TapWave has been working on this convergence thing for quite some time. The next Zodiac is rumored to have a hrd drive like the Tungsten X. They would have it right-if they only had smart marketing to back it up!


Blogger Ron said...

I looked at getting an Archos PMA-400, but decided against it. I currently have a Zaurus SL-C760. The C760 is a wonderful little laptop, but a very poor PDA and useless without its keyboard.

This is, I believe, where the issue with convergence is. We need a palm-sized device with GOOD PDA apps (not that junk that comes with the Zaurus or WinCE devices). We also need something that plays media nicely (stereo would be nice, but no proprietary connector like my Tungsten C).

I'm hoping that the Tungsten X is it for me because I'm getting tired of carrying around 2 devices: one for my media, and one for my PDA.

1:31 AM  
Blogger Tam Hanna said...

here we are yet again: right at the neuralgic point of all PDA operating systems:
Data entry. I personally would like a design like the UX50 best, where you can use a on-screen keyboard(modernize it for landscape mode, dudes) or the attached keyboard. If it only had 400MhZ and a nice lot of RAM...
Best regards
Tam Hanna

7:05 PM  
Blogger Brad Green said...

Sorry Ron, but it looks like we all have to wait a little longer. As I said, I am hopeful the second generation of this type of device should get it right, or at least well enough that we can call it convergence.

7:12 PM  
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