Recently, Microsoft has been taking on much more of a leadership role in the realm of computing, rather than just specifically in OSes. It wasn't too long ago that all we could expect from Microsoft was a new OS every handful of years, and maybe a new revision of their keyboards and mice. The past several years have seen dramatic changes at Microsoft; needless to say, the transition from just an OS company to a company that's driving new applications and usage models into the industry is now complete - the success of Microsoft's new role, however, has yet to be truly seen.

Some of Microsoft's endeavors have done quite well, while others have been met with mixed reviews. While the Pocket PC has taken off by storm, the Tablet PC is still not far from where it was when it was launched two years ago. With the release of Windows XP Media Center Edition, Microsoft began a clear effort to venture out of the offices and bedrooms and into the living room. Now with the Portable Media Center, Microsoft is making the living room Media Center proposition even more tempting.

When Microsoft's Portable Media Centers were first announced at CES, the immediate response was that Microsoft was finally taking on Apple's iPod. Everyone seemed to disregard the fact that Microsoft did not even in the slightest degree intend for the Portable Media Center to compete with the iPod. Instead, everyone viewed it as an iPod competitor that could play movies. The initial reaction to the devices was foreshadowing enough for what was bound to come.

All was quiet on the Portable Media Center front from the time it was announced until it was finally released on September 2nd, but even after the release, there was not much talk about the little devices. Today, we're bringing you our look on the new devices and will attempt to shed some light on these expensive little devices; if you've found yourself asking why you would ever use a Portable Media Center, this article will help answer that question.

What is a Portable Media Center?


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  • Reflex - Thursday, September 30, 2004 - link

    Thats the announcement on MTP. Its an open standard and anyone can support it. Its NOT tied to Windows Media Player 10.
  • crepticdamion - Wednesday, September 29, 2004 - link

    Hello, it seems some people know more than AnandTech concerning this article.

    There are other MUCH better solutions that are not from Microsoft. I don't have anything against Microsoft (even had a lot of PocketPC generations and still have 2 PocketPCs) but when the Microsoft product is worse than the others, well I won't have it because is Microsoft. With me, the better product (overall) always wins.

    Put that apart, this PMC is completely so MUCH weaker than Archos AV400 product, that my heart screams with indignation regarding this article. The diference in Size, Weight, Performance, Capacity (AV480 has 80GB, while AV420 is 20GB as PMC), and what Archos does more is infinite. Microsft ALWAYS looses.

    I advise everyone that read this article to go search on Yahoo or Google for an Archos AV400 Review. Your mind will be boggled with its capacities and it is already available.

    Archos AV400 is several years ahead of everyone else in these products and they deserve it, they've been working on this for almost a decade.

    Good Hunting and always compare the alternatives.
  • Pjotr - Tuesday, September 28, 2004 - link

    #14, That's why the Archos is so much better. Reply
  • Wizkid - Tuesday, September 28, 2004 - link

    That hard drive is capable of 16MB/sec minimum. The rediculously slow transfer rate must be a software or implementation issue. Reply
  • mindless1 - Monday, September 27, 2004 - link

    Transcode the video?
    I think I'll wait for a non-crippled PM player.
  • ViRGE - Monday, September 27, 2004 - link

    At 320x240 and 10MB/min needed for the best video quality, it seems Microsoft is working way too hard here. Those specs are right around the sweet-spot for MPEG1 of all things, which is fast & easy to encode and decode, and at such a low resolution would return very similar results. Obviously MS is planning for the future here, and on that note, these devices will be much more notable once they start using full VGA screens instead of QVGA. Reply
  • michael2k - Monday, September 27, 2004 - link

    Hmm, I call.

    This thing can only do 2MB/s with USB2.0 on video transfer? And you blame the laptop drive for that?

    My laptop (PowerBook 400) can field 16MB/s, and my iPod 2G with it's PCMCIA sized drive can field 12MB/s.

    Of course they were both using the FireWire interface, and they were talking to other, faster, hard drives, but still...
  • Reflex - Monday, September 27, 2004 - link

    Pjotr - I have nothing against the Archos or anything, however no special software is needed for the Creative product. The only reason WMP10 needs to be installed is to add MTP support to Windows, but you are free from then on to use any MTP aware software to transfer data, or you can do so simply through explorer if you wish, its browseable through there(something Anandtech forgot to mention).

    Not saying anything bad about Archos, just pointing out that MTP devices are just as easy to transfer to and from.
  • val - Monday, September 27, 2004 - link

    9: yes but think about use case, i do not want to watch movies so often somewhere to buy such a device. PDA makes much more fun on long trips, holiday or waiting for the bus. And if i would watch them, i like to record them in full quality and than convert from PC. Reply
  • Pjotr - Monday, September 27, 2004 - link


    Maybe for the Windows PMC device, but not for Archos. Archos AV series are fully stand alone with video input for recording straight into MPEG-4 to the device HD for later playback to the video output. Read the product info on the link I posted above. There is no need to transfer movies from a computer, or record onto a computer, or covert into formats readable by the device.

    I think the Archos is light years ahead of the Windows version in practical applicability.

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