New Flipster Portable Offers MPEG-4 Video and MP3 Tunes.

By Richard Menta 6/03/02

Here is the latest toy for those who trade in both movie and audio files on the Net and who want to go portable with both. Pogo! Products, makers of the RipFlash portable MP3 player/recorder, released the Flipster, a video/audio portable.

The size of a cell phone, the Flipster's clamshell design opens up exposing its video display and controls. As someone who commutes an hour to Manhattan on the train, I can very quickly see the advantages this little device offers me during my forays back and forth to the office.

The unit plays MP3, WAV and WMA files on the audio side and allows users to enjoy watching full motion videos compressed in MPEG-4. The player can also view graphic files and photos in the JPG/GIF/BMP formats, which can make it a handy tool for the graphic artist.


The Pogo Flipster MPEG-4/MP3 player

"Flipster has combined all the great multimedia formats into a small device," said Andy Park, Vice President of PoGo! Products in a company press release. "This is not only a gadget lovers dream come true, but it is also a powerful tool for the business professional."

The Flipster comes in two flavors, a 128MB version selling for $449 and a 64MB version selling for $399. Users who just listen to audio files already want more memory than that, but the Flipster can accommodate more through an expansion slot compatible with the MMC and SD flash cards. These cards presently top out at 512MB, which when so equipped will allow a 640MB Flipster to hold a full feature length movie at a decent compression rate. The high capacity flash cards are expensive now, but they will drop in price over time.

Thanks to the use of flash media, the Flipster is a fairly svelte unit, coming in at 3.7 0z. (105 grams) sans battery. That is comparable to most flash MP3 portables and significantly less that the jukebox player styled units that use mini-hard drives for storage. This includes the likes of the LYRA Personal Jukebox at 11oz (310 grams) and the Archos Jukebox at 10.2oz (290 grams).

The Flipster utilizes an Intel® StrongArm 1110 (206MHz) 32bit RISC processor and uses MS Windows CE 3.0 as its operating system. Files are transferred from the PC via USB. A Lithium Polymer Battery powers the unit.

Other features include voice recording, which can be accomplished using the unit's onboard microphone and saved in the WAV format. The unit also has an external speaker, a feature we wish we saw in more portables. While the sound qualities of mono speakers are not the best, they are handy when you want to playback to several people without the awkwardness of having to share a set of headphones.

For future expansion the Flipster includes a proprietary slot for upcoming items like a digital camera, a TV tuner, and wireless connectivity. This allows the Flipster to match the feature base of its nearest competitor, the yet to be released ARCHOS Jukebox Multimedia. The Archos will use hard drive technology to offer 10GB of storage, plenty of memory for long-term storage, but at a cost of bringing that unit in at almost four times the weight (12.3 oz).

The MPEG-4 compression has run into controversy regarding high licensing fees. So significant were the fees that Apple actually delayed the release of Quicktime 6 in protest. How this will all play out with users over time is not known yet, but unless this fee issue is addressed it may dampen adoption by users. If you want to experiment more with MPEG-4 you can go to MPEG4IP.

Below are the technical specs to the Flipster:

 

SPECIFICATIONS
Hardware  
     CPU Intel® StrongArm 1110 (206MHz) 32bit RISC
     LCD 2.5" TFT Backlight Color LCD
     Internal Storage 64/128MB - NAND Flash Memory
     External Storage SD/MMC Slot (Removable Memory Cards currently available in capacities up to 512MB)
     PC Connectivity USB 1.1
     Battery Snap-on Rechargeable Lithium Polymer Battery
     Adapter AC 110V / DC 5V / 60Hz / 1.5A
   
Software
     Operating System MS Windows CE 3.0
     Video Playback Windows Media Technology Supported (v7.0/160x234) .asf, .wmv formats
     Digital Audio Player MP3 and WMA decoding (playback)
     Still Picture Viewer JPG, BMP, GIF format viewer.
     Voice Recorder GSM 6.10 Format, Mono 1 Channel, 8kHz sample rate, 13kbps voice recording.
     PIM Personal Address Book(connected Outlook)
     Game Tetris
   
Playback
     Video Resolution 160x234 / 250Kbps
     MP3 Decoding Bitrates Supports: 8Kbps - 320kbps
     WMA Decoding Bitrates Supports: 8Kbps - 192kbps
     MP3 Playtime (Battery) Approx. 8hrs. @ 128kbps
     WMV Playtime (Battery) Approx. 3.5hrs. @ 250kbps
   
Physical   
     Size - mm 63 x 90 x 26mm (W x H x D)
     Size - inches 2.48" x  3.54" x 1.02" (W x H x D)
     Weight - grams 105gms excluding battery
     Weight - ounces 3.7ozs excluding battery
   
Contents
  Flipster Personal Multimedia Player
Snap-on Lithium Polymer Battery
USB Cable
AC Charger
USB Cable
Charger/USB Adapter
Stereo Earbud Headphones
Drawstring pouch
Wrist Strap
 
System Requirements
  Pentium MMX or higher
MS Windows 98/2000/Me
USB Port
CD-ROM drive
100MB Hard Drive Space

 


The RipFlash 128MB player and voice recorder is available at Amazon

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The Rio Volt SP250 has an FM tuner and is available on Amazon

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