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MP3 Players

Wolverine ESP 5160: Hard-disk harmony

Hundreds of movies, tens of thousands of songs and all your photos. But is the Wolverine's monster hard drive enough compensation for the dated design?

Yesterday we made public our feverish excitement for the new Archos 704 portable video player. Today we're cranking up our portable media desires by drooling over a PVP with twice the storage capacity of the new Archos. The Wolverine ESP 5160 strides out of the showroom with a 160GB hard disk, a 7-in-1 card reader (maybe to add that oft-crucial extra couple of gigabytes to the device).

The ESP 5160 supports MPEG-1, MPEG-4, WMV9 and the widely used Xvid open-source video-compression format, opening up a fantastic opportunity to take literally hundreds of movies with you on your next holiday, as long as they're encoded at a suitable bit rate.

Many portable video devices are limited in their usability, simply because in order to be portable you've got to be small. The Wolverine ESP gives you a 320x240-pixel 3.6-inch display to watch all those movies on, which is a modest size, but perfectly acceptable for a hand-held PVP. We're not hugely taken with the 2001-esque design, but the specs inside the device more than make up for it in our opinion. Being able to offload your recent digital snaps onto the huge hard disk would be infinitely useful for click-happy photographers.

Coupled with the Xvid support, the ESP 5160 will play back your favourite OGG-format music files. OGG is an open-source compression format that's growing in popularity, but isn't supported by certain popular MP3 players, such as Apple's iPod range, so the ESP will have some cachet with Linux dorks.

The player aims to play video content for about 5 hours, and audio for 13. Neither figures are outstanding by today's battery standards, but plugging in the AC adaptor will keep the little chap running long into the night. Since it's possible to output to a TV set or projector, high-quality movie files should be watchable on any projector-friendly display. We're keen to project Sir Patrick Moore's The Sky at Night on to our ceiling -- the only way we can gaze into the heavens from under the London smog umbrella.

The Wolverine ESP 5160 will be released in the UK later this year under the name 'Vosonic'. We can expect a price of roughly £350. Rest assured that you'll get a full review when we're alerted the new model is available. -NL