Slick as it is, a conspicuously missing feature of the new video iPod is the ability to record TV shows and video to play on the device. The new RoverTV portable player not only records video directly from any source, but has a bright 4- inch display and a host of multimedia playback features that make it a compelling alternative to the video iPod.
Encased in a slim white box slightly bigger than a deck of cards, the RoverTV is simple to set up for recording. Hook the supplied RCA cables into any video source and a setup screen lets you select the type of recording—inline audio/video, or microphone—and quality level. All of the video I recorded at high quality had good contrast and clarity, with very little pixelation. It supports AVI, ASF, and WMV9 video formats, and I transferred some DivX files that looked great as well. You can schedule recordings using the built-in timer, and using the AV out, plug it into a TV or computer monitor for external viewing.
But the RoverTV isn’t just for video. It also has an FM tuner and a MP3/WMA/AAC audio player, with a screen showing output levels and encoding details. One subtle thing that I like is that it behaves like an external hard drive when you plug the USB cable into your computer— no software or drivers necessary to drag and drop files from PC to RoverTV, and vice versa. The digital pictures that I transferred to the RoverTV were crystal clear, and you can even zoom in/out and rotate them.
RoverTV includes a 2GB SD card that stores up to 4 hours of high-quality video, and a built-in rechargeable battery that lasts about 12 hours for uninterrupted audio or 6 hours for video. If you don’t like the idea of flash storage cards—as opposed to a hard drive—consider that they only cost about $30–$40 per GB currently, and can store up to 4GB (and growing.) Moreover, no hard drive means no moving parts.
The only real puzzler for me with the RoverTV is the headphone jack, which uses the 2.5mm format, while most of the earbuds and cans on the market use 3.5 mm plugs. This issue aside, RoverTV packs a lot of punch as a portable multimedia platform. TPV