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Round-up: digital music and portable media players at CES

Apple is conspicuous by its absence at CES, so other manufacturers get a chance to hog the limelight. With video the watchword this year, our colleagues at have been rooting out the most interesting portable media players...

With Apple conspicuous by its absence and the iPod looking more invincible every year, most of the early CES buzz has been about portable media players. These pocket-sized devices regard MP3 playback as a side dish and serve up hearty helpings of video as the main course.

James Kim was impressed by the Thomson Lyra X3000, a portable media player that works with a TiVo PVR, making it easy to record television programmes and watch them on the go. Other portable media players on show include the Zvue 400 and 500 from HandHeld Entertainment and the Air Portable Media Player from SK C&C.

So far the main candidate for the 'iPod killer' title is Samsung's YP-Z5, a 4GB flash player with a 46mm (1.8-inch) colour LCD screen. Jasmine France says the aluminium case is supposed to resist scratching and smudging, which could win it points over the slimmer but more delicate iPod nano (reviewed here).

Sonos, creator of the wonderful Sonos Digital Music System (reviewed here), is adding support for the Audible and Apple Lossless formats. However, John P. Falcone reports there's still an issue with protected files bought from services such as the iTunes Music Store and Napster.

Alternatively, D-Link's DSM-120 also lets you stream music from your PC to your hi-fi or home-cinema setup. Falcone was impressed by the inclusion of an empty 2.5-inch hard-disk bay, letting you avoid all the networking malarkey by adding a hard drive preloaded with tunes.

Sony's MEX-1GP car stereo has 1GB of memory in the removable faceplate, enabling you to take your tunes with you when you leave the car. Wayne Cunningham thinks it might be good for Johnny Mnemonic-style data transfer.

Visit our CES 2006 Special Report for more coverage. -ML