Sunday, August 24, 2008
High definition television has glorified really big electronic gadgets. After all, have of the appeal of HDTV is the ability to have an extremely large screen in your home that imitates the screen in a movie theater. One type of gadget that the latest technology provides that doesn't get nearly as much attention as HDTV- and not nearly as much attention as it deserves- is the portable video device.
Generally speaking, portable video devices fall into a relatively broad range of battery powered gadgets that can store video on some kind of internal storage media and then play it back on a built in color LCD screen. Loose interpretations of this definition could include mobile phones that can record video in the category of portable video devices, but generally portable video devices are gadgets that can download digital video files from other devices like computers and in some cases Digital Video Recorders. There are even some portable video devices that can download video directly from the Internet over WiFi connections, but that's still very much a budding technology.
The most popular type of gadget that can do this is probably the iPhone. The iPhone can download video from Apple's online store, iTunes, store that video on its eight gigabyte built in hard drive and then play it back on its screen. Even though it's the most popular, the iPhone is far from the only gadget that can do this and certainly wasn't the first. The video iPod that came before it was actually capable of doing the same thing and the iPod touch, which is just coming out now- shares the ability as well. One feature that the iPod touch and the iPhone share is the ability to stream video over a WiFi connection. This is a useful feature because it expands the selection of video that can be viewed on one of these gadgets far beyond the relatively limited selection offered on iTunes. For example, streaming video can be used to access TV shows through major networks or amateur videos through YouTube. Of course having to be within a wireless hot spot in order to do this is a major limitation.
Of course Apple doesn't have a monopoly when it comes to all of these different features and options. For example, a lesser known company named Archos makes a device with many of the same features of the iPod touch that has versions with larger storage capacities for comparable prices. The Archos 605 WiFi is one of these gadgets and it has the ability to browse the web on an Opera browser (the Apple products with WiFi capability have Safari) and even view PDF files. Plus, the Archos gadget can plug into a full sized TV set to display the contents of its screen there. That's a big bonus when it comes to making things easier to see and easier to read.
The impressive features that are built into these devices, and many others like them, speak to the incredible advances that have been made in the area of small electronics. HDTV screens may provide an impressive picture, but portable video devices combine impressive performance with impressive versatility!