There's always a type
of gadget out there that the techno-literate are drooling for long before
the regular public becomes aware of its existence. The MP3 player is a
great example; there were MP3 players, and CD players that played MP3s, and
the Creative Nomad hard drive-based player, none of which made much of a ripple
on the public consciousness; then there was the iPod.
My vote for the next technology
likely to blow up is the personal multimedia device. These little packs of
technology have everything going for them. Movie and music playback, hard
drive storage, even television recording, applications and games all stuffed
into a portable, rechargeable package with a tiny LCD screen. Of course,
producing a good multimedia player that the public will actually buy is a
tricky proposition. Pricey components, battery life and the variety of competing
video formats all conspire to make manufacturing a good portable entertainment
device rather difficult.
The potential of these devices is tantalizing
though. In a package considerably more portable than even the smallest
laptop, you can conceivably pack all your favourite movies and television shows,
not to mention music, for your enjoyment on the move. It's small wonder
that most of the computer technology companies of the world seem to be moving to
produce their own players.
Today we have the pleasure of looking at PQI's newest entry into
this soon-to-be crowded field, the mPack P800 portable entertainment centre. From
it's nice 3.5" LCD screen outwards, this miniature media powerhouse is
loaded with features, some of which we have yet to see on any competing
To start with, the PQI
mPack P800 supports a pleasingly large array
of formats. For video, MPEG 1,2 and 4 (and DivX) are covered, along
with XviD, WMV and ASF. An equally wide range of audio formats including
OGG, AC3, AAC, WMA and WAV files are supported in addition to the
traditional MP3. To top it off, the mPack P800 even supports a range
of picture formats beyond the expected JPEGs. GIF and BMP
pics can be viewed, and even RAW images, something that should make
photography enthusiasts smile.
Coupling well with its photo-viewing abilities, the
mPack P800 sports another handy feature which is surprisingly uncommon
among other players: its own Compact Flash slot. This
thoughtful addition makes the player much more flexible to use and
transfer data with, especially when away from home.
|| PQI mPack P800
Users Manual, AC Power adaptor, tripod,
cary case, remote, software, headphones, audio and
video cables, USB cable, lanyard, rechargeable
Let's take a run though the rest of
the PQI mPack P800's feature list before we get down to the meat of the
- The 3.5" LCD sports a 320 x 240
resolution. Brightness and contrast are adjustable.
- A 20, 40 or 80GB Samsung 2.5" hard disk is used for
media storage. Our test model featured the 40GB drive. The PQI mPack P800 is a
USB 2.0 capable device which appears as a removable drive to Windows XP and
2000, meaning it can also be used as a portable drive.
- The Compact Flash slot accepts all compact flash storage
output for 5.1 external
- Composite input for
A/V recording from TV or other video sources, including high-definition TV.
- Voice recording can be accomplished via the
built in microphone. PQI does not specify the quality of the created MP3
- Virtual 3D spatializer sound effect for audio.
- The FM radio playback and recording function allows
users to tune in radio stations, store favourites and create MP3 files.
- An infrared credit card sized remote is included which can
perform all control functions, and includes some buttons not featured on the
- The included earphones come with an inline remote
which can be used with any set of headphones.
- The unit possesses a built in mono speaker and a stereo
headphone jack. The speaker is about as good as you'd expect,
which is not very. It will suffice for listening to sports on
the radio, but for music playback, it's best to use the
Advertised battery life is 4.5 hours for video playback and 10 hours for audio playback (with
screen off). Photo viewing battery life should
fall somewhere in between. The mPack carries a one year warranty
from PQI, and the battery is not user replaceable.
The mPack P800 uses a pair of Lithium-Ion rechargeable
batteries rated at 2200mAh. You can also run the device from the included
AC adaptor and it will charge
from your computer's USB port, though you cannot use the
player while you are doing so.