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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