Pros: Bright screen; 2GB storage as standard; Up to eight hours music playback; Videos don't take much space
Cons: Plastic watch face can scratch easily; No word-wrap for ebooks
Bottomline: A great little player with all the convenience of a wrist watch, but treat it gently
Portable video players have plummeted in price recently and advances in technology such as cheaper full-colour displays and cheaper memory have encouraged manufacturers to consider new styles of product.
This Video Watch, for instance, sold by Firebox, builds a fully functional player into a reasonably slimline men’s watch. Using a 128x128pixel screen panel, which gives a bright and fast display, the watch plays video, music, photos and text as well as showing the time in digital and analogue forms. There's a voice recorder too, so you can take spoken notes or record meetings.
Navigating the menus and selecting functions is easy enough once you’ve worked out what the six buttons down its two vertical edges do. Usefully, you can press and hold one of the buttons to get straight to the time display when the watch is off.
Getting files on or off the watch is very straightforward if you're running Windows XP or Vista (Windows 98 users need to install the supplied drivers).
Connect the USB cable and the device is seen as an external disk, and the filing system is already set up with sensibly named folders such as Music and Text, so it's just a case of copying files in the appropriate formats into these folders. The watch recharges its battery when connected to a computer's USB port but there’s also an adapter to plug it straight into the mains.
A full charge should give eight hours of audio or four hours of video playback. The watch plays audio in MP3, WMA and MP4 formats and video in Sigmatel Motion Video (SMV) format, which offers an hour of playback for every 200MB of memory (the watch is supplied with 2GB, or 10 hours' worth).
Because SMV isn’t a popular format, the watch comes with easy-to-use converter software offering three video quality levels. The main concerns we have are with the physical robustness of the watch. It's not waterproof, the buttons look a bit fragile and the plastic face looks susceptible to scratching.
While you might keep a typical media player in a pocket or a case, this one, being attached to the user's wrist, is likely to get a bit more stick.