Personal DVRs and their feature lack

Apple might be preparing a video iPod, but it’s not going to be as cool as this one:
http://www.archos.com/products/av_500/
Archos has a long experience in video products (they were the first in that market, in 2001), and they support direct recording, something that Apple’s contracts with the entertainment industry won’t allow them to incorporate to their new iPod.

And yet, while Archos is the leading company for personal mobile entertainment and they have the coolest hardware (very expensive too), they still lack a few features. Here’s my list:

* battery for 5 hours of video

Currently most DVRs can do up to 4 hours, at best. That’s less than two movies time. Not good, not good.

* second headphone jack on the opposite side of the device

So you can have both your kids on the back of the car watching cartoons instead of shouting to each other “it’s mine”, “no, it’s mine!”. This feature should have been a no-brainer actually…

* firewire for DV input and encoding support

This is a needed feature for those on a vacation that have a camcorder, and want to immediately watch it on a better screen, or encode it and share it. I was in that situation myself this summer after shooting my brother’s wedding. If I had such a device to encode my camcorder video to divx or something, I could then copy it over to my brother’s PC (his PC didn’t have firewire at the time neither anyone else in his town does, Firewire is luxury in Greece).

* 2 MP camera with VGA video recording *on* the device (not only as an optional mountable addition)

While the new Archos devices come with support for picture viewing, it would be very convenient for those who don’t want to also carry cameras and camcorders, to offer a basic snapshot/recording solution. My rationale for this is “if mobile phones do it, why not a device that it’s meant for media in the first place?”

* Bluetooth headphone support

Because having up to 7 bluetooth clients watching on a 4″ screen is cool. 😉
Or because you are on a mountain walk and your (big) Archos device is in your backpack. Instead of having wires, a bluetooth headphone would work better for such a situation.

* USB host for external drives

Because exchanging files with your friends or backing up your data, is a must! Make the device as much independant as possible from the need for a PC. Nice to see that this feature exists on the AV500.

* ogg and up to VGA h.264 support

These are needed. And WMV and PNG support too…

* FM radio and recording from it

While iRiver has FM radio on their products, most Archos products don’t. Weird.

* SD/MMC or CF card slot

Very convenient to exchange files, but mostly for downloading pictures easily from your main digicam. Not everyone wants to bring cables with them at vacations.

And of course never forget the plastic stand on the back of each DVR device, so it keeps the device vertically on a flat surface for better viewing experience.

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