Portable Media Center Impressions

I got my Portable Media Center (PMC) last Friday and I wanted to play with it for a few days before I talked about it too much. I bought the Samsung YH-999 because that one seemed to be the smaller of the two availalble right now. So far, I'm really liking this machine. Just a few comments:

Size: This device is larger than a regular iPod by about half. That is to say, it feels a lot like somebody sliced an iPod down the middle the long way and tacked it to another iPod. Given that the machine has a big wide color screen on the front, this does't feel like a bad thing. It's about 8 ounces and the edges are fairly rounded so it's comforable to hold. There's a little kickstand on the back of the PMC that lets you set it on the table for easy viewing.

Content: This is where this PMC really shines. I've got a number of things going to fill the machine with content and they all seem to work great:

First, I've got a Media Center PC and the PMC device syncs any shows that I've recorded in the last week. The other night I watched a Nova episode about the Mars rovers on the PMC. After about 5 minutes, I forgot about the machine and I was completely immersed in the show. I think that's a good sign. In addition to TV shows, I've got a lot of family video that I can add to this machine, and I've also added a couple hundred photos. (You can watch slide shows while you listen to music.)

Next up, MSN. I mentioned earlier this week that I signed up for the MSN Video Download Service. It was 19 bucks for the year and I've been getting new stuff every day when I plug in. Last night I watched the CNBC interview with Steve Jobs. The material you get seems a little random right now, but the site mentions that you'll be able to customize what you download soon. For under $20, this is a pretty good deal.

I've been a Napster subscriber for a long time and I was able to add the Napster To Go service for an extra $5.00 a month. This has been absolutely great because it's given me a chance to listen to artists that I wouldn't necessarily buy outright. This week I downloaded a couple of Kid Rock albums, some 50 Cent, Velvet Revolver, and even a little Brittany Spears. If you're into exploring music, this service is completely awesome.

One of the big reasons I bought this machine was that I wanted to sync podcasts automatically. I followed the instructions that Phillip Torrone gave in this article, and I was up and running. So I've been able to listen to a few podcasts and they're pretty good. Tonight I noticed that the Channel 9 Video feed (rss)included enclosures, so I added that to iPodder. I added a video criteria to the auto playlist that I set up for podcasts and I was set to go. (Though right now, I've only hooked one video from that feed.) So for podcasts, this is super.

Finally, Tivo anounced a new service called TivoToGo. This should let me copy some content from the Series 2 machine in the living room to the Media Center PC and on to the PMC. I added myself to the priority list for the necessary Tivo software upgrade on Saturday, but that hasn't come through yet. I'll post about it when it kicks in.

Overall Impression: The YH-999 is a great little machine. It's quite different than anything else out there right now. It's small enought to carry on the belt for music and it's pretty easy to open up for a quick demo. There's a little AV port on the top that lets you jack the device into a TV for playback and I could see possibly using this to do PowerPoints in a pinch. (You would have to convert the slides to photos or video.) If you've got any questions or comments, be sure to post here. I would love to hear the impressions that others have of this device.