One of the more intriguing items that Philips was showing off at its annual Holidays in June event in New York City was its upcoming Portable Media Center, the PMC7230, which features a sharp, 3.5-inch display and a 30GB built-in hard drive, plus the ability to dub TV shows from a VCR, a DVR, or recordable DVDs.
The PMC7230 is competing with several new portable media players that have been trickling onto the market as Apple's iPod with video has taken off. The obvious advantage to the Philips player is its ability to record directly from any video source, such as a cable or satellite box or a DVR, but the drawback is that you're recording in real time--if a show is 30 minutes long, for example, it'll take 30 minutes to record. The PMC7230 also seems to be the near-ideal form factor--while it's compact, the screen isn't so tiny that you have to squint to see it.
Like most portable media players, the PMC7230 plays music and displays JPEG photos along with videos ripped in the MPEG-4 format. Philips says you'll get as much as 5 hours of battery life when playing videos and up to 18 hours when playing music. This model is also PlaysForSure compatible, which means that it works not only with PlaysForSure audio services such as Musicmatch and Napster but with PlaysForSure video services such as Vongo and Movielink. The glossy black Portable Media Center is due this September and will carry a list price of $349.99.