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October 13, 2005

Video IPod

Apple's getting a lot of buzz on the Internet over the new video iPod, although not everyone is a true believer. According to Philip Swann:

"The video iPod will be Steve Jobs' folly. Americans will not watch full-length videos -- or perhaps even short music videos -- on 2.5-inch screens on portable devices. It makes no sense."

I don't fully agree with Swann, but time will tell how many people find portable video useful. I doubt adding video functionality will make users less likely to buy an iPod so I doubt it will negatively effect iPod sales, but the real question is how many people will use it for video and big the market will be for people who cater to it through services such as Video on Demand?

I doubt I'm the regular consumer, but I use the Sony Playstation Portable (PSP) frequently for video. I haven't had a chance to use a new iPod, but here's my head to head between iPod and PSP for users who primarily want video:

  • Size: iPod definitely wins here albeit the PSP is easy to carry as well
  • Screen Viewing: While I haven't seen the iPod in action, the PSP is the likely winner here with a 16:9 screen. My first take on the iPod is that they should have made the screen longer to be 16:9, and just make users turn the iPod while watching video.
  • Storage: The PSP doesn't come with a hard drive (you use memory sticks instead), so iPod wins here. My 1Gb memory card suits me just fine for video for everything but an intercontinental flight, but there is was to augment it like Portable storage drives like the Tripper.
  • Music: The PSP supports MP3 files but nothing like the iPod
  • Games: PSP wins hands down
  • Included Software: The PSP comes with no software and adding video is an esoteric process
  • Price: PSP retails for $250 although you can find it cheaper. iPod will set you back $299 - $399 depending on hard drive size. If you add in a 1GB memory card, PSP is about the same price.
  • Getting Content: Stay tuned for this. iPod has some music videos available for download, as well as television shows. PSP has it's own video disk drive called the UMD, and has a few titles available for it. PSP has Video on Demand in some international markets, but nothing yet for the US or Europe

Without seeing the iPod in action, it's debatable which is the best device for video. If the screen of the iPod looks good and you aren't a gamer, iPod looks like the best device. If you play games occasionally, then PSP may be a better device for you.

Of course, you could buy a unit like the Creative Zen Portable Media Center or an Archos AV420, but up until yesterday, they were charging a premium for these units ($450 - $500). Not surprisingly, Creative has already cut the price of the Zen PMC with a $250 rebate. These guys are definitely going to feel the squeeze the worst from the Apple announcment.

Posted on October 13, 2005


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