A few years back, Thomson/RCA's Lyra multimedia player/recorder was one of the first landscape-oriented portable video players to hit the scene (more modern devices based on the slick design include the Cowon A2 and Creative Zen Vision). Now, Thomson's announced the $399 Lyra X3000 Personal Multimedia Recorder, a 20GB do-it-all gadget with a 3.6-inch, 320x240-pixel screen and available sometime in January. The X3000 plays back MP3, WMA (including subscription tracks), and Audible files, and it displays photos and slide shows. It's also a MPEG-4 recorder, so you can hook it up to a TV, a DVD player, a satellite box, and so on to record content in real time. Weighing less than 8 ounces and measuring 3/4 inch thick, the X3000 features a built-in speaker and an SD slot for photo transfer. It ships with a remote control and the Home Theater Docking Base so that it can fit in with your entertainment center and act as a programmable "VCR" that can be programmed and has the ability to time-shift video content.
But the most--actually, the only--truly intriguing feature is its compatibility with DirecTV2Go, which will roll out sometime in 2006. Users will be able to connect the X3000 to a DirecTV DVR and transfer recorded content at an impressive 10X speed, then watch the content on the go or piped out to another TV. The nice thing is the X3000's DirecTV interface will have the same look and feel as the DVR's. A free firmware update will give the X3000 this capability. For now, the simply designed player (with its very own kickstand) is a reasonable alternative as a recording PVP for a lower price than much of its competition, though we'd love to see a 30GB or higher version; 20GB seems a bit low these days for a full-service PVP.