The Philips PMC can also record video, an ability no other PMC can currently claim. Philips provides the needed cable for this functionality, and it's a simple matter of connecting said cable to the RCA A/V outs on your TV, cable box, or DVD player, then plugging the other end into the A/V in port on the PMC. Then, you can select Recording from the main menu and click Video in the next menu. The device automatically detects the video signal and displays it on its screen, along with instructions on how to start the recording (essentially, just hit OK). Recordings are saved by date and time in the Video menu. You have the option of adjusting the recording time, quality, and resolution, but we wish it allowed for more manual control of recording settings, such as volume levels (more on why below).
You can also use the aforementioned cable to output audio and video to your TV or stereo system by connecting the 1/8-inch plug end to the PMC's A/V out port and the other end to your setup's RCA inputs. Philips also includes a wall charger, a USB cable, some earbud-style headphones, a protective case, and a quick start guide.
It would be too harsh to say that the Philips PMC is all style and no substance, but we were definitely expecting a better performer. Our main gripe is with the audio quality--it's not good. Music that we transferred from the PC sounded flat and overly bright, and both the mid- and low frequencies were lacking. Hip hop tracks sounded pretty appalling, while rock and downtempo songs were merely passable--and this is even through Shure E4cs. Overall, music just wasn't very enjoyable to a set of ears that are accustomed to Creative's Zen V Plus.
Image quality for both photos and videos faired better but still wasn't spot on. Most photos were nice and bright with good color saturation, but all suffered from blurred edges and some pixel problems. Album art in particular was very pixilated and appeared washed out. Video quality was quite good, though recorded video looked faded as well. More problematic was the sound quality. Specifically, we recorded some music videos from a DVD, and the resulting files suffered from a crackling sound with every drumbeat. This usually happens when the volume levels are too high, but as there are no levels settings on the PMC, there was little we could do to fix it. Shows recorded from a cable box fared a bit better in terms of sound quality, likely due to the lack of musical content.
The rated battery life for the Philips PMC is 16 hours for audio and 3 hours for video. Neither of these numbers is awe inspiring, but both are decent. Luckily, they both proved to be more impressive during CNET Labs testing, with 18.2 hours for audio and 4 hours for video.