Portable Player Reviews

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Chris Chiarella  |  Jun 05, 2007  |  First Published: May 06, 2007  |  0 comments
What's the key to portable video? Lots of slots.

The problem with a moniker like Picture Porter Elite, classy sounding or not, is that it conjures up notions of a digital bucket of sorts, compatible primarily with still photos. That is far from true for this well-rounded portable media player. Its roots are in the realm of the memory-card reader, which began its life as a PC accessory and later became a freestanding device with its own onboard data storage. You could insert cards while out in the field and safely archive their contents onto the unit's built-in hard drive, thereby freeing up the precious removable media real estate so you could snap new pictures and/or lens new video. A small LCD let you interface with your multimedia content. To expedite the transfers, it displayed file names, file types, and so on. The Piture Porter Elite uses a bigger color screen and has the necessary decoding so you can view your images and movies. Throw in music playback just because everyone everywhere is listening to MP3s, and you begin to formulate a sense of what this device can do. It also connects to a video source and records content to play back on the go later. Or you can park the Picture Porter Elite next to an audio/video system, patch it in with the included cables, and view all of the content on your TV. You can zoom, pan, and rotate your photos or easily print them via a simple USB connection to a PictBridge-compliant printer. The FM radio has a bold, clever graphic user interface and is a nice bonus. (The included headphones serve double duty as an antenna.) There's even a voice recorder with an embedded microphone and a pre-loaded game: It's Tetris, even though they call it Matrix.

Mark Fleischmann  |  Jul 17, 2015  |  0 comments
It is remarkable that people who pay attention to what they feed themselves—fussing about calories, cholesterol, and gluten—can be so cavalier about what they feed their headphones.

True, you can get used to anything, including the flea-sized amplifier in your smartphone and the messy output of your computer’s soundcard. But for those who are willing to step up to a new normal, products that combine a USB digital-to-analog converter with a headphone amp can make good headphones sound better—and allow better headphones to fulfill their destiny, which is to bring listeners to a higher plane of audio existence.

Chris Chiarella  |  Mar 24, 2006  |  2 comments
Game Boy Micro + Game Boy Video = The world's smallest movie player?

I've been intending for some time to write about at least one of the many developments on the Nintendo handheld gaming front, but what would be my Home Theater hook? The Game Boy Advance generation eventually offered Game Boy Advance Video, which provides playback of third-party content on little Nintendo flash memory cartridges, but these were typically just episodes of recent, kid-only fare from Nicktoons and Disney. And then DreamWorks surprised many folks, myself included, by licensing three of their animated feature films to Majesco Entertainment, the major player in GBA Video. So, I finally had my software, but what about hardware?

Michael Berk  |  Nov 30, 2012  |  0 comments

Well, Black Friday and Cyber Monday have passed, and the giving season is almost upon us. And we've got a nice gift for you to give (or, of course, keep for yourself) - a Model S tabletop sound system/iOS dock from our friends at Geneva Labs

Mark Fleischmann  |  Feb 08, 2017  |  0 comments

Performance
Features
Ergonomics
Value
PRICE $399

AT A GLANCE
Plus
Balanced and unbalanced output
Drives moderately demanding headphones
Hi-res capable, including DSD
Minus
No album art
No fancy DAC chip
No user-accessible internal RAM

THE VERDICT
The HiFiMan SuperMini combines the sonics of a gentle top end and luscious mids with light weight, long battery life, and enough power to drive slightly less efficient headphones.

HiFiMan was founded in New York by Dr. Fang Bian. The company now operates from China but does not outsource either manufacturing or design. Headphones come from a factory in Dongguan. Music players come from another factory in Kunshan. R&D runs in Shanghai, software is developed in Shenzhen, and headquarters are in Tianjin. Unlike so many storied audio brands that have cut loose from their original motivation, 11-year-old HiFiMan continues to reflect the vision of Dr. Fang.

Mark Fleischmann  |  Mar 22, 2018  |  1 comments

Performance
Features
Ergonomics
Value
PRICE $199

AT A GLANCE
Plus
Handles PCM, DSD, and MQA natively
Second iEMatch output for IEMs
USB or battery powered
Minus
No analog line input

THE VERDICT
This full-featured budget amp/DAC can get the best out of most headphones, especially in the all-important presence region.

If you’re looking for a USB amp/DAC to juice your headphones, you might assume that a couple hundred bucks would buy nothing more than a stick amp, one of those compact dongles that extends straight out from your computer’s USB port. We live in the golden age of the stick amp, and I’m sure not knocking ’em. But what if the same money can buy something with a little more real estate for circuitry and the always vital power supply, offering better than 96-kilohertz/24-bit resolution, DSD, MQA, and two headphone outputs with different gains, one for demanding ’phones and one for more efficient ones (including in-ear monitors, aka IEMs)? Of course, you must read on.

Nikhil Burman  |  Jul 19, 2006  |  0 comments
It folds open like open like a book, but there's no literacy required.

Summertime for many of you means travel time. And let's face it, folks—long plane flights can be a dreary hell. A good book helps, and, if you can sleep, that's the best way to kill time, unless of course drink carts and people headed to the bathroom keep bumping your shoulder every five minutes. But a portable DVD player can really help the time pass, and perhaps even help you forget about the tight space you're packed into.

Michael Berk  |  Dec 08, 2011  |  0 comments

Does the iPad have a role to play for audiophiles, or for the new breed of iDevice-inspired audio enthusiasts? It's hard to beat the touchscreen interface for music listening - it provides a tactile browsing experience that hands-down beats the UIs on most high-zoot audiophile servers. On the desktop there are plenty of audiophile file players that load audio into RAM for supposedly improved fidelity - but the iPad offers all-solid-state audio storage to begin with, freeing your bits from jitter-inducing hard-drive-access. But is iOS - and the circuitry within - up to snuff?

Mark Fleischmann  |  Dec 02, 2005  |  0 comments
Will better sound help a non-iPod product succeed in a iPod-centric world? JVC is betting on it with the Alneo XA-HD500. Now, I'm not saying the iPod sounds bad. The minis and nanos I've heard sound pretty good. But the Alneo has an edge in transparency that becomes immediately obvious with a high-end classical recording like Mozart's Clarinet Concerto (K622), as played by the Michelangelo Chamber Orchestra with soloist Antony Michaelson. Normally I don't expect miracles from MP3 files, even when ripped at 192 kilobits per second, but I was amazed at the fragile beauty of the string sound and the air that surrounded the solo instrument. I was hooked.
Mark Fleischmann  |  Dec 21, 2005  |  0 comments
Let's face it, i-anything is pretty hot now that the iPod has become the fastest-growing product in consumer electronics. Sales of MP3 players shot up by 255 percent during the first eight months of 2005, and you can bet Apple's smallest and prettiest child was the driving force behind that dizzying growth. Enter Klipsch, one of the few good speaker brands you're likely to find in a national chain store. Now that the the company's iGroove is playing on my desk, I'd say Klipsch deserves its piece of the pie.
Leslie Shapiro  |  Dec 22, 2014  |  0 comments
It’s getting down to the wire—stockings are hung by the chimney with care, and Santa’s helpers are desperate for an idea for that last-minute gift. The Nyrius Songo is just what Rudolph ordered for that grumpy Scrooge who hasn’t bought all the latest and greatest electronics. The Songo ($25) and Songo HiFi ($50) turn any receiver or dock into a wireless Bluetooth system. Scrooge can even use an iOS dock with an Android phone via Bluetooth, as long as the dock has an AUX input.

Chris Chiarella  |  Aug 17, 2006  |  0 comments
It's a cell phone—and so much more.

As I was packing for a recent trip, I was amazed at the number of electronic gadgets I've amassed over the past couple of years—and how many I need to bring along to keep me both accessible and entertained for the long hours away from home and office. I once joked with Sony that adding calling features to their PlayStation Portable would make it a perfect device. But, in the meantime, I do appreciate any cell phone that allows me to do more than check voice mail, and, as such, the LG V phone is a small wonder.

Mark Fleischmann  |  Mar 21, 2008  |  0 comments
Plant a seed, grow an iPod docking system.

My first impression of the mStation was that it had grown out of the ground. Having just uncrated it, I knew it hadn’t really sprung out of the carpet, of course. Yet somehow it seemed more like a young stand of trees than a floorstanding iPod docking system. If I waited long enough, would this self-contained trio of cylinders erupt in branches and leaves? No, and yet there was something organic about it. The pair of metal speaker tubes seemed to rise up from the base, while the subwoofer drum suspended between them seemed to levitate in midair. In addition to having a whiff of the arboreal, it also resembled a headless robot.

Michael Berk  |  Sep 20, 2012  |  0 comments

While we are big fans of the small companies who've stepped up in recent years to build ever-better headphone amps for use on the go, there are times we would prefer to carry a single device.

Does HTC have us covered?

Michael Berk  |  Nov 15, 2012  |  0 comments

Apple's 30-pin connector was the accessory port that launched countless peripherals; it's analog and digital connectors (and long-term stability over years of product cycle) made possible an entire universe of iStuff, not least among them the dependable iOS speaker dock. But with the introduction of the iPhone 5 and the rollout of the digital-only Lightning connector, the dock, already under threat by ever-better wireless approaches, suffered its first serious shock. Sure, adapters would do in a pinch, but they hardly lent themselves to the lean lines promised by the Apple experience.

Have no fear - JBL is here with the first Lightning docks.

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