AOL's Portable Music Player: The Ugly, Functional Duckling?

It seems that everyone has their own branded media player these days and now AOL, although a bit late to the game, is no different.

Recently, at CES, AOL debuted their first portable media player manufactured with help from Haier. The initial reactions seemed less than enthusiastic, but the brushed metal finish and poor photographs may have had some hand in that. Of course, for any device to be worth our time, it has to do something that other current market entries can't do. Does the AOL PMP match this challenge?

For starters, the control scheme is pretty straight forward. While there is no loved click wheel, there is a clickable touchpad and four separate control buttons. The device, of course, has a QVGA screen (which is said to be a bit on the dim side) and the standard 30GB hard drive. It also runs on a Linux based operating system. Nothing all too impressive, yet.

It seems, however, AOL put some thought into the concept of wireless connectivity that Microsoft was so proud of with the Zune. Like it's Microsoft counterpart, the AOL device sports WiFi connectivity. Unlike the Zune, however, this connectivity can be used to download songs from the music store of your choice, stream internet radio, download files in the background, and search for songs similar to the one you are currently playing. They weren't done. To further enhance the wireless experience, the device features built in bluetooth connectivity allowing the user to pair up a set of bluetooth headphones for easy, wireless listening.

Of course, one has to ask, what kind of files can the user listen to over those pretty wireless headphones? Well, as reported by Engadget, the PMP will support PlaysForSure WMA files, AACPlus, AACPlus Enhanced, WAV, and MP3 on the audio side of the equation. On the video side of things, you can play MPEG-4, WMV 7/8/9, H.264, and AVI video files.

With the unit not being out in production (or even having an official name, for that matter), it's still difficult to see how well the latest entry into the portable media player market can fair against the bar setting iPod, but initial reports do seem promising.

News source: Engadget
Link: Photos

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Hmm...AOL make an MP3 player? No thanks. You just don't do it. You buy hardware from hardware companies.

Looks pretty good to me.

That metal finish, though, will be a haven for scratches :P. For potential customers, the hope is that itll become popular enough that rinkydink stores like Bed Bath and Beyond will carry covers for cheap.

I dont mind people complaining about the photos...i do agree they arent the best. My question is, why arent there more? Considering the magnitude of CES, where are links to sites hosting their own pics? There has got to be someone out there with quality pics with proper lighting.

I think, though, they really have answered the prayers of a lot of people. Streaming radio? That is a very nice feature. Im hoping that would allow for streams outside of AOL's free XM streams. Theres a particular sports talk radio station I prefer to listen to.

The bluetooth headphones is a real boon. Itll look like a person has a wireless headset for a phone and less like an AOL Media Player, less likely the person will be mugged for their media player.

And now it seem that the final nail in the cofin on the zune is hammered. Somebody as done a mp3 player with useful wi-fi.... XD

Still it's aol, and aol suck.... but theyre persistant and tought. This might be getting somewhere.

I'm surprised (and someone please tell me why) nobody makes a media player with a scrolling-wheel on the side, like the BlackBerry.

If they make it considerably less than the iPod (under $200 USD?), it might have somewhat of a chance. Since it can use WiFi, why not just include a slim browser on it? That and maybe try adding a small little touch pad like laptops have ...

Of course, that's what PDA's are supposed to be for, but I'd still be nice to sit around listening to some podcasts and surfing the net in your hand. :P

I don't think it looks bad but....

I'm waiting for the "AOL sucks" and "AOL should just die already" comments. Nevermind a good story on them, you just can't let AOL get by without an AOL sucks!
here you go, I hate aol.

Oooo, AACPlus?

Me like, although it's somewhat useless on a 30GB player. It'd be more helpful for a smaller flash player.

And PlaysForSure on a Linux-based device?

And PlaysForSure on a Linux-based device?
If it plays them, I would assume that these people licensed the use of it.

Linux is not incompatible with DRM, Linus stated so, directly. Most Linux users are rather adverse to it, though.

I'm waiting for the "AOL sucks" and "AOL should just die already" comments. Nevermind a good story on them, you just can't let AOL get by without an AOL sucks!