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PQI mPack P800 Portable Entertainment Centre

PQI mPack P800 Portable Entertainment Centre  - PCSTATS
Abstract: 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 player.
 82% Rating:   
Filed under: MP3 Players Published:  Author: 
External Mfg. Website: PQI Memory Sep 06 2005   M. Dowler  
Home > Reviews > MP3 Players > PQI Memory mPack P800

Battery life and Conclusions

Our final test was a movie marathon, subjecting the mPack P800 to sequential playback of three DivX movies converted from our DVD library (reservoir Dogs, Charlie's Angels and Monty Python and the Holy Grail) at 70% screen brightness. PQI claims movie playback times of 4.5 hours, and we wanted to see what we could expect in real life. As it turns out, the mPack passed with flying colours, easily finishing all three movies and providing another 15 or so minutes of playtime afterwards. Total uptime was just over 4 hours and 45 minutes. Charging the batteries does take a while though, up to six hours.

The PQI mPack absolutely shines as a media player. It's more than capable of playing your DivX library, or most other movie clips you have lying around. Not only will it play them, it'll play them at full speed with no discernible dropped frames, at least in our experience. The battery life is more than adequate for viewing multiple movies.

Music and photo viewing are also strengths of this player. It's support for many file formats including OGG music files and RAW pictures should endear it to Linux fans and digicameraphiles respectively. The ability to zoom and pan extensively in the photo viewer was appreciated.

The user interface is not exactly simple or intuitive, but it does seem that a lot of thought was put into making it functional. Once you've got the hang of the dual joysticks, you can zip through menus and applications quickly.

The 3.5" LCD was bright and lively, with excellent colour reproduction and no perceptible problems. In our movie tests, the sound was always perfectly in sync with the image.

On the negative side, the included media software is the only way to create playlists or get the mPack to recognize your music by genre or artist. This is unfortunate because it is cumbersome to use and extremely slow when transferring files. You can copy and paste your music files onto the player's drive and then use the file browser to play them though. The included applications look like an afterthought and are pretty much useless. We also wished that the control joysticks were more precise and better constructed. To be honest, replacing each of them with a set of five buttons would have provided much better precision.

The mPack does not currently copy DVDs well, but PQI states in the package that this is a known problem and that it will be fixed with a firmware update shortly. Brief instructions on backing up your movies to DivX are included, which the unit will play flawlessly in our experience.

Hopefully the direct copying issue will be resolved though, for convenience' sake. Of more concern is the current inability to fast forward or skip through recorded video files. This is a serious annoyance and needs to be fixed since it compromises the usability of the player. We'd like to see the option to set resolution and sampling levels for the recording too.

We also kind of wish that there was some way to get at the batteries easily, since like any chargeable device, they are going to die eventually. Having at least the potential of replacing them would have made us feel better. Of course, it's quite possible that opening the player would give you easy access, but we refrained from cracking open the test unit.

Most of the above criticisms should be fixable by means of firmware updates. If PQI can pull this off, the mPack may well be the best portable multimedia player on the market in a couple of months. At the moment, it certainly offers a better LCD screen, and generally improved features over the MSI Megaview 561 PCstats reviewed previously.

PQI offers a one year warranty that covers all aspects of the mPack P800. MSRP for the mPack P800 40GB model is US$599, but we've seen it for $500USD (CAN$620). This puts it considerably higher than the average hard disk audio player, but still much cheaper than a budget laptop.

As a portable movie viewer, the mPack P800 is the best we've seen yet. As a photo viewer and music player it's excellent too. Battery life is another strength. Despite the slightly fishy controls, recorded DVD and TV playback problems and stodgy software, it earns itself a coveted honour: The next time I'm on a plane or a train, I'm going to really wish I had it with me.

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4. OQO Model 1 Palm-size PC

< Previous Page © 2020 PCSTATS.com MP3 Players News»


Contents of Article: PQI Memory mPack P800
 Pg 1.  PQI mPack P800 Portable Entertainment Centre
 Pg 2.  First Impressions and Setup
 Pg 3.  Examining the mPack P800
 Pg 4.  PQI mPack P800 Accessories and Remote
 Pg 5.  Compact Flash Card Reader
 Pg 6.  Companion Software
 Pg 7.  TV-out of Photos and DiVX Movies
 Pg 8.  — Battery life and Conclusions

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