Sony launches portable hard disk video player

Sony launches portable hard disk video player

Sony has announced a hard disk drive-based handheld video player and said it plans to put the device on sale in Japan before the end of the month.

The Vaio PCVA-HVP20 contains a 20GB hard disk drive and has 8.9cm thin-film transistor (TFT) liquid crystal display (LCD) that occupies about half of the front of the unit. A navigation joystick and three buttons sit under the display and provide all of the controls needed by users.

The video player was designed as a hardware extension of Sony’s GigaPocket software, which was installed on some models of the company’s Vaio computer line and allowed users to record TV shows to and play them back from the computer’s hard disk drive, a Sony spokesperson, Shoko Yanagisawa, said.

A video transfer manager application bundled with the player handles file transfers between the PC and device, which are accomplished via a USB 2.0 connection.

Playback of GigaPocket, MPEG1 and MPEG2 files is possible on the device and the software would also convert Windows Media Video and DV AVI files to MPEG2 files before transfer thus allowing them to be viewed, Yanagisawa said. There was, however, no support for playback of MP3 audio files.

The device could also be hooked up to a television set via the standard audio-video connector so that video can be viewed on the TV set’s larger screen.

Unusual for a Sony product, the video player had no Memory Stick slot, because it was designed with the PC based GigaPocket application in mind, Yanagisawa said.

Subsequent models might feature a slot depending on customer feedback, she said.

The hard disk can accommodate up to 31 hours of programming, when recorded in GigaPocket’s long play mode, while the rechargeable Lithium Ion battery lasted about four hours, Sony said.

The video player is positioned as a Vaio peripheral designed for use with GigaPocket. Sony is only guaranteeing compatibility with its PCs and specified Vaio computers as the supported platform.

Technically, the player should work with most other PCs, but it’s a case of buyer beware as technical support was not available for users of non-Sony machines, the company said.

It is 84mm wide, 120mm tall and 28mm deep. It weighs 300g.

The video player will go on sale in Japan on November 22 for about $642. There are no current plans to sell it overseas, the spokesperson said.

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