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An Article Concerned on PMP and PMC - Mp4 Converter

Updated April 25,2006

Portable Media Players and Portable Media Centers are two similar devices that both allow you to enjoy your digital content on the go. Both are portable, and both will give you the freedom to take your audio, video and digital photos with you on the road. This article will help you identify what the differences are between the Portable Media Players and Portable Media Centers before you make your choice.

Portable Media Player (PMP)

A Portable Media Player is similar to a hard drive based MP3 player, except that they also allow you to watch movies in addition to listening to audio files. They have a built in colour LCD screen not only for file navigation but also to watch video content. The Portable Media Player can also be used to view digital images or to store data from your computer. Size and features vary between the various players, with some having expansion slots for media cards like the ones found in digital cameras. Portable Media Players can pretty much do everything an MP3 player can do and more. You can think of them as the big brother to the MP3 player.

Portable Media Center (PMC)

If you have heard of Microsoft Windows XP Media Center Edition, then it may come as no surprise that Portable Media Centers were designed to work seamlessly with this version of Windows. The main difference between Media Players and Media Centers is that Media Centers meet specifications outlined by Microsoft. And use Microsoft's operating system (OS) designed for small devices called Windows Mobile. Instead of using special software, synchronizing your media library to the PMC is done through Microsoft Windows Media Player 10. Using an OS and software that is familiar to many people makes it a bit easier when you're learning how to use the player. There is even a Windows key on PMCs that opens the main menu when pressed, much like the Start Button in PC versions of Windows.

Storage Capacity

Storage capacity of the hard drive based units usually starts at 20GB. 20GB will allow you approximately 320 hours of music at near CD quality (128kbps MP3s) or approximately 35 hours of video at VCD/MPEG-1 quality. If you use more advanced compression types, such as WMA (Windows Media Audio), for audio or video, or DivX, for video, these figures can go even higher while still maintaining a fairly good quality.

For the media players that have an expansion slot, you can instantly add up to 1GB of storage via a memory card. An expansion slot is also handy for viewing photos taken from your digital camera. Simply take out the memory card from your camera and pop it into the media player to view, be sure to double check that the media card used in your digital camera is compatible with your Portable Media Player or Portable Media Center.

Size and Weight

While these devices are portable, do not think of them as being something you can put in your pocket and walk around with. In order to watch videos, the screen on the player has to be a reasonable size, which also adds to the overall size of the player. Since battery requirements are also higher for playing back video, this is also made bigger. Both larger screen and larger battery add considerably to the weight and size of the device. Roughly speaking, expect Portable Media Players and Portable Media Centers to be twice the size and twice the weight of hard drive-based MP3 players. The screen size on these players is generally about 3.5 inches (measured diagonally).

File Types

Both types of players will generally support the more common formats, such as MP3 and WMA audio formats as well as WMV (Windows Media Video),and MPEG-1 and MPEG-2 for video. For image files, JPEG is the most common, although some will support BMP (Bitmap) images as well. Other popular format types to watch for are DVR-MS (Microsoft Recorded TV Show File), DivX (MPEG-4)/AVI videos, and MP3Pro audio files. While it is always nice to have a player that supports more types of formats since you will not be able to play files that are not supported, certain types may not be essential if you never use them. In addition, you can usually re-encode unsupported files to something the player can support, although this can take a bit of time, depending on how fast your computer is, and may degrade the quality.

If you buy digital music or video downloads, check to see that the player is SDMI Compliant (Secure Digital Music Initiative). An SDMI compliant player will allow you to enjoy your downloads that contain Digital Rights Management (DRM), which restrict you to how many times you can copy a downloaded file. Portable Media Centers and Windows Media Player will support copy restrictions on Windows Media Audio and Windows Media Video file, making it easy for you to transfer the files as well as licensing rights to your player. Without SDMI support, DRM files cannot be played back.

PC Connectivity

Both Portable Media Players and Portable Media Centers are connected to your PC via a USB 2.0 cable, which allows a maximum of 480Mbit/s bandwidth. This means that you can transfer 1GB of data in roughly 17 seconds, although real-time speeds are usually considerably lower. If your computer only has a USB 1.1 port, speed is considerably slower at 12Mbit/s. In this case, you may wish to transfer files overnight or add a USB 2.0 card to your computer.

With a PMC, uploading media files to your player is done via Portable Media Player 10 or higher. Depending on how you set up Windows Media Player, it can automatically synchronize all the files from specific folders on your PC, or you may wish to manually select which files you want uploaded to your player. If it comes across a file type that your PMC does not support, Windows Media Player will automatically re-encode the file to something the PMC can play (assuming that the original file can be played on your PC).

With PMPs, transferring files may vary depending on which player it is, although it's generally quite simple as well. It may be as easy as dragging and dropping files over to the device via Windows Explorer, much like copying files from one drive to another, although you may have to place them in special folders. It may also come with additional software that will automatically synchronize your media library to the player, much like with Windows Media Player.

Home Theatre Connectivity
If you want to watch a stored movie or TV program on your TV or someone else's TV, you can easily hook it up. Appropriate cables are usually included so that you can add your PMC or PMP to your home theatre system. Connect the cables from the player's line out jack to your television's inputs like you would a VCR or DVD player and watch the show on the big screen. Note that if you plan on watching video on a television screen that the video file has been encoded in high quality. Otherwise, you will notice pixelization and artifacts that would normally go unnoticed on the player's smaller screen. If you only want to listen to audio, of course you an always hook up the player to your stereo amplifier.

Like many hard drive-based music players, some PMP and PMC models allow you to record video in addition to recording audio. If you are often on the go and do not have time to watch all your favourite TV programs, you can hook up your device via S-Video or composite RCA cables and audio cable to record your favourite programs much like a VCR or DVD Recorder. You can either record from a live station via your television or cable/satellite box, or you can record videos from your VCR or DVD player. Some models even have built-in TV tuners. Keep in mind, however, that you cannot record from copy protected sources such as those found in most commercial DVDs that you buy or rent from a store. If you have any home video footage recorded to DVD-R, such as from your digital camcorder, these will not be copy protected and will be okay to record to your media player.

Battery Life

An important consideration when choosing a player is battery life. Most of the portable media devices incorporate a custom lithium ion or lithium polymer battery which can be recharged. Polymer batteries are lighter but they cannot be recharged as often before having to be replaced. Playing time for audio range from 10-20 hours whereas for video, due to additional processing and screen power requirements, is limited to roughly 5-7 hours, which is enough time to get through 1 or 2 of your favourite movies. Recharging the battery consists of plugging in the included power adapter to your player. As well, the player can recharge via your PC's USB connection.

Other Features

With the constant advancements in technology, there are already some new features added to cutting edge models. Some portable media devices have included network ports to make it even easier to transfer data between player and computer, and others go even further by incorporating wireless networking. A few have accessories available such as a wireless remote or a docking cradle.

While neither a Portable Media Center nor a Portable Media Player is a device you want to take with you when jogging, it may be ideal for those on a long bus or airplane rides. You can take it with you on vacations, and when you get back you can use it to show off your photos taken with your digital camera. If you're a movie or TV buff you can keep up with all the new releases while soaking up the sun. Think of it as a theatre system with your DVD and CD library all in the palm of your hand.

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