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Outside the Toy Aisle

OK, maybe you don't want to be caught in the toy aisle. Don't fear, the choices are only just beginning to get going in the adult area. Some of the most interesting solutions are these:

  • PlayStationPortable (PSP) from Sony
  • Hand-held DVD Players
  • Portable Windows Media Center Edition

The PSP is here. Hurray! Now, maybe the hype will settle down a bit. At its core, the PSP is a game system in the same family as the GameBoy. The difference is that the PSP also allows you to watch movies and digital photographs. To help demonstrate this, a copy of Spider Man 2 is shipping with each PSP.

To play a movie, you use a new proprietary mini-disc. The disc holds about two hours of footage, so forget any DVD-like extras because there's no room for them. The battery life is also awful. But this is the first generation and it is really a great start.

Another area that is growing very fast is the hand-held DVD player. These players are so tiny that their limitation is restricted to the size of the DVD disc. Some companies are even addressing this through supporting three-inch mini-DVD discs. Generally, the screen size of the hand-held DVD players is fairly decent, about four inches, and works well for sitting on a plane. Again, as with the PSP, the limitation is largely its short battery life.

A series of products that do not need to worry so much about battery life are the steroid-induced MP3 Players that play video as well as music. These super MP3 players typically run Microsoft's mobile version of Windows Media Center. You can listen to music, watch TV, and browse photos. Because you do not need a spinning DVD disc, the battery life is much better. You can find products by Archos, iRiver, and Creative—all competing fiercely in this arena.

All these solutions are interesting, but not to the degree where I would change my lifestyle. One of the challenges every solution faces today is a lack of content. It is simply very hard to find correctly formatted movies.

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