Digital Portables – Time to cut the cord? Maybe


The fact that we need to use a PC to make our digital portable players – audio and video – become part of our lives is the main reason why the wide-scale adoption hasn’t happened. And perhaps its time for us to cut that umbilical cord. Or so argues, ABI Research analyst Vamsi Sistla. WiFi is going to be the panacea which will help us over come the dependence on PC.

“Today’s so-called portables are still tied by an umbilical cord to the computer and a broadband connection. The industry should address these shortcomings.”

They point out that Wi-Fi networking capabilities are starting to appear in portable audio players.

Although such models are still few in number, they will become a flood in 2006.

And they even point to Thomson’s upcoming product line that will interface the player directly with a home hi-fi system, without the need for an intermediary PC and broadband connection. I think they are right about the dependence on PC has to end, but the big problem is that if we start adding too much to the music players, the already crappy UI is going to get worse. It is not just about adding wifi capabilities – how will it work the music-commerce engines, and storage devices in the home. You know all those little tiny things that in the end make a good consumer experience.!


Jesse Kopelman

I really want a WiFi enabled iPod, but only as a way to avoid cables. I really doubt WiFi will make for an easier “dumb user” experience anytime soon. Who cares about dumb users anyway. Those willing to pay a price premium for something like an iPod are not dumb users. Being “dumb user”-friendly is for commoditiy devices, not premium devices. Remember, the iPod is a higher margin item than the Mac. I’m not sure it is in Apple’s best interest to change that. It’s better to be BMW (notice the i-drive everyone said was too complicated did not hurt their sales at all) than GM.



I got my Dell x50v for $370 bucks (with coupons and stuff). It’s got everything: WiFi, Bluetooth, SD, CF, VGA, etc. It’s the handiest thing I’ve ever purchased. I haven’t seen any laptops for $400… yet.



One big step in this path is that the new PocketPC devices can function as both a USB device (when connected to a PC), and (most importantly) as a USB Host, when connected to a digital camera or an inkjet printer, or even a GPS device, etc.

The new PocketPCs have very nice VGA screens (thats 640×480, for readers from Rio Linda).

But why, oh why do they cost as much as an entry level laptop?

Oh well, in 2010, we’ll still be bitching about some technology annoyance.


Ok, so if I am not using the PC to get content, what even more closed platform am I getting it from? A cell phone provider? My cable company? If we are using Wi-Fi to some random device, how is the UI on the player going to work? On what screen size? Does it need a browser now to work with multiple providers? How do I configure the Wi-Fi on a player? Through plugging it into the PC int eh first place?

All of these are more closed systems providing fewer content provider options than a PC based broadband setup. If all Wi-Fi does is remove the cable between a PC and the player, who cares? It WILL reduce battery life.

Have these people learned nothing from the iPod shuffle’s success? Simple and easy wins.


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