Creative preps MS-based Nomad video player

Time to dust off that video iPod, Steve

Update When Apple failed to launch a video iPod earlier this year, as it had been rumoured to be planning, it disappointed many of its fans. And now it looks like Microsoft is going to get just such a device to market ahead of it.

The software giant today said it was partnerning with Creative Technology, developer of the Nomad range of MP3 players - and a company given a hefty kick up the pants by the launch of the iPod - to create a portable media playback device.

Creative will develop the device hardware, based on Microsoft 's Media2Go operating platform, developed by its embedded systems group, and built around Windows CE .NET. Media2Go was unveiled at the Consumer Electronics Show earlier this year, but Microsoft began shipping Intel Xscale-based reference hardware today. A built-in hard drive will hold music, video and photos, and presumably there'll be an integrated LCD panel.

The actual specifications of the device have yet to be revealed, but Creative said it would hold "more than 8,000 music files, 175 hours of digital quality video or up to 30,000 photographs". Media2Go uses compression to squeeze 40GB worth of data onto a 20GB hard drive.

Incidentally, we're not quite sure what "digital quality" means - it's a bit like saying something's as blue as a blue thing. We had assumed Creative meant something comparable to DVD playback, but a trip to the Microsoft Media2Go web site reveals the truth: 175 hours of VHS quality playback. Ho-hum.

"The players will provide continuous playback of video for up to six hours and continuous music playback for up to 12 hours," says Creative.

Samsung, ViewSonic, iRiver and Sanyo have already licensed the platform from Microsoft. Creative's product is due to ship "late 2003" - in time from Christmas, presumably. So Apple has a little while yet to get its vPod out of the lab.

In the meantime - and thanks to Reg readers for pointint out Archos' Jukebox Multimedia 20, a multimedia version of its old hard disk-based MP3 player. The 20's been around for a while, and is capable of DIVX and MPEG-4 video playback. The screen looks a mite small, mind, reminiscent of early 1980s' portable TVs. In its favour, as one reader writes, there's "no Microsoft DRM". ®

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