Will somebody make a decent low-cost, Android-based Media Player please?

Will somebody make a decent low-cost, Android-based Media Player please?

Summary: Archos is planning to release a Android-based MID/Media player with up to 500GB of internal storage by Q3 2009. Cool, but knowing what Archos charges for their current units (~$400) I can't imagine it will be cheap.


Archos is planning to release a Android-based MID/Media player with up to 500GB of internal storage by Q3 2009. Cool, but knowing what Archos charges for their current units (~$400) I can't imagine it will be cheap.

I swore to myself that I would never do this, but I actually went out and bought an Apple product -- a 120GB iPod Classic for my wife Rachel. Steve Jobs and company can now thank one of their most vocal critics for another bread and butter sale. Ka-Ching!

Click on the "Read the rest of this entry" link below for more.

Now, mind you that Rachel asked for "An MP3 player so I can listen to music and audiobooks". She knows how much I hate Apple equipment for being proprietary, and that I think iTunes is a horrendously bloated and buggy piece of crap, particularly on Windows, and that I would prefer that she would use something that better conforms to more open standards.

So, I looked for something comparable that would store a decent amount of music on it and cost less than $250.00. I shopped around a bit. Yeah, there's the new 120GB Zune, but choosing between an iPod and a Zune is a fairly easy decision, considering that they both now cost the same amount of money. The Zune is $229.95 on Amazon with free priority 2-day shipping (I'm a Prime member) and the iPod Classic is $224.95.

Sure, the Zune has some pretty cool features that are worth considering, such as the XBOX 360 integration (and I don't own an XBOX) and the wireless sync, but in terms of 3rd-party support, it's the developmentally-challenged cousin of the iPod, and from a proprietary/lock-in perspective, they are about par for the course. In terms of evil-ness factor, it's like choosing between Darth Vader or Emperor Palpatine (think Sith Lord in a black turtleneck) and Henry F. Potter from It's a Wonderful Life. So given the choice, and if I wasn't going to save a bunch of money by going with a Zune, I chose an iPod. Note to Microsoft: Drop your Zune prices significantly if you expect the throngs to switch.

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For what it's worth, I won't be using the device myself. I use my BlackBerry Bold 9000 with an 8GB Micro-SD card and its robust media playing capabilities as my music player, which I primarily use when I'm traveling -- I carry enough music with me to have a decent selection on a 2 to 4 hour plane ride.

Rachel has a much larger selection of music she likes to listen to so she needs the device to have a much larger capacity -- which is why I didn't choose a less-expensive iPod Nano, a Sandisk Fuze or Sony Walkman either. The 8GB max storage capacity just wasn't going to cut it. It seems that if you want any kind of media player with decent storage capacity, well, you got the iPod Classic, and you got the Zune 120. And that's about it.

Oh, there's the Archos Generation 5 -- indeed a cool machine, and it can have up to 250GB of storage, but now we're really getting pricey. Archos is going to be releasing an Android version of their player towards the end of 2009, but if it's anything like what they sell now, it will hardly be an affordable alternative to the iPod Classic or the Touch.

No, what I'd really like to see is some Korean or Chinese/Taiwanese company come up with a true iPod killer -- $199 or less, with at least 120GB of storage, built-in Wi-Fi, 3.5"-4" screen, and running Android, with the capability to play every major media format for audio and video.  And completely DRM-free.

Is this too much to ask? Do you want an Android-based high-capacity media player device as well? Talk Back and Let Me Know.

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Topics: Google, Apple, Hardware, Microsoft, Mobility, Storage


Jason Perlow, Sr. Technology Editor at ZDNet, is a technologist with over two decades of experience integrating large heterogeneous multi-vendor computing environments in Fortune 500 companies. Jason is currently a Partner Technology Strategist with Microsoft Corp. His expressed views do not necessarily represent those of his employer.

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  • Android Media Player WILL be coming

    An Android media player will be coming from a plethora of knock-off manufacturers along with the big brands especially since Android is license cost free and no direct approval process.

    ,Michael Martin
    • Android will be free but

      will the subscription service cost be in line with the rest, and there is allways DRM to contend with.

      It may be a lock in with just another MP3 player
  • Giinii Movit Mini

    I think the Giinii Movit Mini could end up being a nice, low cost, Android-based media player. Given that there is a microSD slot, I would hope that there will be support for high capacity microSD cards (64GB, 128GB?, ...), as they become more affordable.

    There is a G4 CES2009 review of the Giinii Movit Mini on YouTube:
  • Creative Labs

    Creative Labs showed off a new chip at the Mobile World Congress called "Zii". It ran Android and was shown decoding video at 720p.

    They have long since released portable media players that were competitive with the iPod, but they have not had anything that compares to the iPod Touch. I think there's more than a fair chance that they will release some large screen portable media player in the coming months and that it will be running Android.

    They even touted it as "The ideal Android platform".
  • RE: Will somebody make a decent low-cost, Android-based Media Player please?

    Why does it have to be Android? It a music player your wanting for God's sake. Android is a bloated JAVA piece of crap. I don't own an Apple product either so I am not biased towards Apple.
    • Because it supports more than just media stuff

      If it is running Android, it can do the media stuff AND all the other things Android supports (phone calls, email, web, games, ...). Plus, it is more likely to support open media standards.
  • Android? Get yourself a *real* phone: Nokia

    I'm still amazed that other phone makers haven't approached the capabilities of the N series phones, such as the N95.

    Get all the music you want, streaming over your data plan, on-demand, immediate gratification.

    You can mess with downloading MP3s but why bother when you can just *play* on demand from Last.fm or Real Rhapsody?

    Put full-length movies on your MicroSDHD card and watch movies with DivX at 25fps. TI OMAP ARM11 multi-core doesn't break a sweat, all while running Apache web server, Fring, and other apps in the background.

    The operating system?: Symbian S60.

    Try doing *that* with an iPhone. pfffft.

    Nokia: Open to Anything.

    Thank youz and have a hobie day. :)
  • RE: Will somebody make a decent low-cost, Android-based Media Player please?

    I just want a 2TB micro SD card...with windows mobile and the wireless sync via bluetooth...it would be awesome.
  • Archos is cheap

    In fact, Archos has a flash memory based Generation 5 product released at $199 and which you can find on Amazon.com at 135 dollars today. That is certainly cheap, and you can add more storage using SDHC memory cards.

    So no reason Archos wouldn't remain very good even better value with the Android generation that should come in a few months.

    In fact, I would say, I think that Archos has always provided the best value for money. Proof is the Archos 5 250GB is cheaper than buying an unlocked iphone.
    • Also, Archos can provided different storage versions

      Archos will provide a 500GB version, but that does not prevent them from providing cheaper lower capacity versions, again, all the way down to a lowest cost flash memory storage that could perhaps be 8GB or 16GB with SDHC memory expansion, or quite simply using a cheap 60GB or 120GB hard drive for the cheapest model.

      For example, they might release a high end 500GB 2.5" hard drive version, a middle range 250GB 2.5" hard drive version, a cheap 120GB thinner 1.8" hard drive version and an even cheaper and thinner 16GB flash based version.