The technology industry never fails to amaze me. On a daily basis I read articles about new products and the functionality being built into todays ‘gizmos’ is absolutely mind boggling. And the new Portable Media Player from Irvine California based IOGEAR is right up there with the best of them.

Everything about this product, and the company are top notch. A company representative even called to make sure that I had received the unit. Which, at that time I had not! Fed-Ex had delivered it to my neighbor! But 15 minutes later I had it in my hot little hands.

The first thing that caught my attention was the size. It is only slightly larger than a Cigarette Pack, certainly small enough to put in your shirt pocket. For those techy types the exact dimensions are 0.75 in (19 mm) High, 3.20 in (81mm) Wide, and 5..25 in (133 mm) in Length.

OK, lets get onto the good stuff, what does it do, and how hard is it to make it do it?

One of the problems I have with today’s ‘gizmos’ is that they mostly seem to require a PhD in Astrophysics and Computing to actually use the darn things. The IOGEAR player was a snap to install, you just connect up a USB cable and that is it! No messing around with drivers, no 20 questions to answer, it is entirely self contained. In fact when using the USB hook-up you don’t even need to hook up the power cord, all the power is pulled through the USB.

Once you have connected the unit, it looks like a regular drive, and indeed that is what it is, you can copy any file type to it, and it supports both FAT32 & NTFS file systems. For the average user this likely is not very useful information. And I have to admit that after having spent over 30 years in the technology world, my eyes just glaze over at the mention of File Systems and Kernels, I just want tools that I can use. So, the bottom line is, this is a piece of cake to set up. The cables are keyed, the will only go in one spot, you cannot go wrong.

The next project was to load it up with media. The press release claimed that it could handle mp3 and various video formats, so I copied my wifes 2 gig My Music folder. It was completely painless, and very quick. USB 2 is considerably faster than its older counterpart.

For the DVD component I took a couple of screeners that I had and they loaded fine. However commercial DVD’s proved to be more problematic. OH, and before you nice guys at the RIAA and MPAA send me nasty letters, it was all in the name of research, and everything has now been deleted! As I said commercial DVD’s were a pain, but that was likely my ineptitude rather than a technical problem. To round out the test data I ripped a CD, and kept it in CD analog format. It’s OK, it was a CD from an indie label, so you RIAA lawyers reading this review need not get excited.

Having loaded the gizmo, it was game time. Everything played just fine on the computer, but that did not surprise me, if the computer can write it, there is a pretty decent chance that it will be able to read it. The acid test was to hook it up to a TV.

Yes you heard me right, you can hook this gizmo up to anything that will accept HDTV: Component RCA connectors, Standard TV: Composite RCA connectors and Audio: RCA left/right connectors.

Pretty much this equates to everything in the Audio/Visual world.

Being a bit of a Luddite, my first choice was the 13 inch TV that we watch while playing online. Plug in the RCA cable, and the TV suddenly looked like one of my computer monitors, a pleasing background picture, and a list of the File Folders. This is where the (included) remote control came in handy, although the unit has a gazzilion buttons on it, the remote is much more convenient. I tried all of the formats, and they all worked perfectly.

I connected it to my digital projector, the big TV in the bedroom, a couple of computers at work. I have yet to find an issue with this device.

This is a device that IOGEAR should be proud of, with a capacity of 120 gigabytes this is a great media player. Most folks would not understand what 120 gig means, well it is 50 hours of DVD quality video, or over 30,000 songs. Or if your passion is photo’s, this gizmo will handle somewhere in the region of 34,000 pictures of the grand children.

The only downside to this player is that it currently only officially supports Windows. I did try it on my Linspire (Linux) system, and while it recognized that I had plugged it in, and it made all the right noises, I could not find the drive. But, I do believe that a little creative hacking could resolve this. So, any Linux weenies out there, explain the /mnt command, so I can fix this! There is also no Apple support, I only have aging Apples, so I was unable to explore this aspect.

This is a great product, and it certainly has impressed me. The retail price may seem a little steep at $350, but it is worth every penny. Packaged in a small black case that looks like a CD case, you have everything that you need, the player, power supply, and cables for just about every conceivable situation. Check em out at www.IOGEAR.com

Simon Barrett

http://zzsimonb.blogspot.com

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