Archos Jukebox FM Recorder 20, £299.99
Archos Jukebox FM Recorder 20, £299.99
Archos's latest 20Gb MP3 has a new trick up its sleeve. Unlike its predecessor (reviewed here a couple of months ago), it doesn't attempt to play films on its tiny LCD screen. Instead, it has a FM radio so you can record the latest (or for Radio 2 listeners, the oldest) tracks as soon as they hit the airwaves – making it, as far as I'm aware, the first digital music player to enable this. What's more, its 30-second "retro-capture" buffer button lets you record the whole of a track even if it has already started playing. Clever, eh?
It's slightly smaller and lighter than the Jukebox Multimedia, with smoother lines and a more compact shape making it easier to hold in your hand. But that's the only thing that is easier. It's still tricky to use, even with the manual to hand. Once again, Archos has come up with a great idea without fully delivering.
Philips Pronto Pro SBC RU970, £750
0870 900 9070; www.philips.co.uk
This touch-screen universal remote has a database of more than 500 electronics brands, divided into a whopping 13 categories. You'll soon have the Pronto operating your complete home-entertainment system. Well, almost. It couldn't control my TiVo or Pace digital cable set-top box, and frankly, it wouldn't even look at my Alba DVD player. There is no accounting for taste.
It's also worth taking the time to connect it to your PC, after installing the supplied software, so you can customise the interface by creating logos for your favourite channel or lengthy macros, which allow you to issue a pre-set series of commands with a touch. Impressive – until you check the price tag.
Orange SPV, £170 with contract
The SPV uses a new Windows Smartphone operating system, which means you get the best bits of a Pocket PC, minus the bulk. The onboard calendar and address book can be synchronised with your PC, and the features include e-mail, an internet browser, and a Windows Media Player able to play digital audio and videos on its 64,000 colour screen. And with its GPRS connectivity, you can use MSN Messenger to talk to people in real time.
It's a breeze to use, though the buttons are small and their shape makes them hard to read. It also comes with a camera attachment that enables you to either send picture messages or just store them in its 8Mb of memory. Excited? You should be.
Olympus Camedia C-730 Ultra Zoom, £499
Despite being a mini-digital, the C-730 looks and feels like quality, offering 3.2 megapixels, 10x optical zoom and 3x digital zoom. It is also one of the first Olympus cameras to use the new xD-Picture Card, which is the smallest storage format of its kind on the market (it comes with 16Mb). There is a secondary slot as well, so you can use SmartMedia cards if you prefer.
It's simple to operate despite the array of features, which include an option to crop and resize images on its LCD screen to get the exact shot you want, when you want. Complaints? It takes a fraction too long to boot up – if it isn't switched on when you see the picture you want, you're in danger of missing the action. But for price, ease of use and, most importantly, picture quality, the C-730 is hard to fault.
MediaEnabling MusicUS-B, £300
0039 02 231371; www.mediaenabling.com
The new DataPlay discs aren't much bigger than a 50p piece, yet can store 500Mb – 11 hours of music. They aren't re-recordable, but with a few in your pocket, you should have room for your music collection and more. It's simple to use, with a good-sized LCD screen.
The slight disappointment here, though, is the device to play them on: the MusicUS-B is far chunkier than necessary, and it's not one of the best-looking players, either. Aside from its removable memory, then, there is little about this player to get excited about.Reuse content