No doubt that the iPod is the undisputed portable media player at the moment (and has been for a long time now, with its position well-cemented), but that does not mean other players in the arena cannot try to usurp the top dog with their devices. Ainol has recently released its V3000 portable media player, and this model ain’t too shabby once you are able to get past the fact that it is one of the lesser known portable media players out there. Just don’t be disappointed that whispers of Bluetooth connectivity, Wi-Fi support and GPS are just that – rumors. On a side note, I wonder whether Will Smith gets any royalties for his mug from I, Robot, being splashed on the box. Read on after the jump for more details.
At first glance, this is a pretty bulky device, especially when it is compared to the iPod touch. The Ainol V3000 measures approximately 114mm x 75mm x 12mm, while Apple’s sexy iPod touch is much slimmer at 110mm x 61.8mm x 8.5mm. The figures might not differ too much from each other, but holding both devices right in front of you do leave you amazed at what a world of difference a couple of millimeters make. Still, the size does lend a feel of it being more solid, although I wouldn’t dare say it is robust enough to survive more than a couple of falls onto the floor.
The crowning glory of the V3000 ought to be its display – at 4.3”, you can’t really argue with image quality. After all, the LCD display comes with an extremely high resolution of 800 x 480 pixels, which is far superior to that of the iPod touch (480 x 320 pixels) and the Sony PSP (similarly sized, although the resolution is a much tamer 480 x 272 pixels. Capable of displaying up to 16 million colors at once, you won’t have to worry about a lack of image quality if that’s at the top of the list. Unfortunately, the refresh rate doesn’t feel up to par as certain fast paced movies (thank you, torrents!) and anime shows do show some lag from time to time – not enough to detract from the overall movie watching experience, but could prove irritating for those who expect perfection. Granted, the iPod isn’t all that great either in this department (a lot of it greatly depends on the movie’s encoding though) as I’ve seen some movie trailers on the iPod that stutter every few seconds.
Audio wise, the speakers are nothing to shout about and ought to be avoided at all times unless you can’t help it. Best to get a pair of insulating earbuds to go along with the Ainol V3000, whether you are watching movies or listening to your favorite MP3 files. Once the volume is cranked up to 80% or so, the audio from the speakers started to crack (at least that’s what I experienced while watching 300 and The Mummy 3: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor), leaving me to hunt for my earbuds in a jiffy.
Let’s move on to file format compatibility now. The Ainol V3000 certainly does not disappoint, as it is able to support a whole host of video formats including :-
- MPEG (AVI)
As for music, audio file format support comprises of MP3, WMA, FLAC, APE, AAC and OGG. For those who want this to double up as a portable digital photo album, you can always store your collection of JPEG, BMP and GIF files, going through them individually or as a slideshow. There is an integrated FM radio just in case you are sick and tired of your current MP3 collection, leaving you to check out what the local area DJs are up to.
One major gripe that I have with the V3000 would be its user interface – the graphics are clean enough to navigate, but the method of moving around feels constipated. You will take some time before getting used to how the volume and channel controls are used to navigate through the user interface, but they’re certainly nowhere near the iPod’s innate intuitiveness, that’s for sure. Those who were weaned on an iPod and having purchased the V3000 might end up feeling rather frustrated at first, but if one perseveres long enough, you can be sure that your efforts will pay off before you start to seamlessly go through the menu in a jiffy. Great way to build up patience if you lack that virtue.
Just in case the 8GB internal memory isn’t enough (it is almost always the case anyway), you can always rely on the miniSDHC memory card slot that supports up to another 4GB worth of storage space. The Ainol V3000 miht come with an integrated microphone, but I wouldn’t use this as a replacement for a dedicated voice recorder since the microphone isn’t too sensitive, and it picks up way too much ambient noise in the process.
The buttons are all located on the top side of the V3000, and you get a TV Out port for you to watch your videos over a regular TV. Best to use this with standard definition TVs, since the picture quality won’t impress on a HDTV.
Files and data are transferred via USB 2.0, and this is best charged using the included AC adapter since USB charging doesn’t seem to work with the review unit I received. Other accessories that are included with the Ainol V3000 include a remote control, a pair of generic earphones, a USB cable, an AV cable and an AC adapter.
Battery life is decent enough to last you through a couple of average length movies before it requires a recharge, making this useful enough for trans-continental flights. After all, aren’t you supposed to get enough rest while flying instead of filling up your time with the mindless drivel we get from Hollywood these days?
All in all, Brando’s $166 price point for the Ainol V3000 portable media player is decent, and that includes worldwide shipping. Since times are hard and if you’re willing to sacrifice user friendliness for the V3000′s strongest point – its brilliant display and extensive format compatibility list, then $166 is not too much to ask for. Otherwise, save up for a few months more and get yourself an iPod touch instead. I can safely say that the V3000 is the poor man’s iPod touch, although it would be nice to see Wi-Fi connectivity and a GPS chipset thrown inside to provide a greater level of competitiveness.
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