Monday, March 17, 2008

Wi-fi portable media players from Haier

Haier (pronounced "higher") is a giant Chinese manufacturer known mostly in the US for compact refrigerators and wine coolers. The company is just over 20 years old, but is now considered to be the third largest appliance maker in the world. They recently expanded into televisions and other consumer electronics products, including portable media players.

Three Wi-Fi-equipped "Ibiza" series models can provide wireless access to the Rhapsody streaming and download site. The players also deliver Wi-Fi 802.11b/g access to 20 free Rhapsody streaming channels in encrypted and unencrypted home networks and hot spots. The top model adds stereo Bluetooth for use with Bluetooth headphones and to stream music to Bluetooth-equipped audio systems and speakers.

The Ibiza models are: $329 30GB model with Bluetooth, $249 8GB, and $229 4GB. Each one is available in several colors.

The players also deliver wireless access to more than 1,000 preset audio podcasts and some video podcasts. They also feature a wireless Web browser, though Web browsing is not a primary function because of the small 2.5-inch screens. Feature and service updates can also be downloaded wirelessly.

The units play video in the MPEG-4, protected and unprotected WMV, AVI, and H.264 formats. Music can be stored in MP3. WAV, AAC and protected and unprotected WMA formats. The units also have FM tuners.
This is a preview, not a review.

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