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Review: Apple iPod vs. Wolverine MVP

If you're old enough, you may remember the first time you saw someone with one of those tiny portable TV receivers, probably at a sporting event. The picture was small, and black and white, but you were still probably impressed.

These days, the emphasis is on big. 42" DLP monitors. 61" LCD displays. No matter how large living room or office displays get, the thrill of pulling a TV out of your pocket never fades. Portable DVD players have been around for a while, but they're bulky and chew up batteries. Enterprising PDA owners have been watching shows scrunched down to fit onto memory cards as well. But with the introduction of portable media players (PMPs), the concept of taking your video with you is finally starting to become mainstream.

We recently had a chance to play with two fairly new PMPs, the Apple iPod (with video capability) and the Wolverine MVP. As will become clear, getting a player is only the first step to actually watching video on the go.

To start with, let's take a look at the units themselves. The iPod offers either 30 or 60 GB of hard disk space. (Ours had 30.) As you'd expect from an iPod, it's designed to fit comfortably into a shirt pocket (measuring around 4" x 2", and under a half an inch thick) and weighs a negligible 5 ounces. It comes with a 2.5" LCD screen, and has all the normal iPod functionality, including iTunes compatibility. In spite of its small size, it stood up well in our battery test, clocking in at 140 minutes of continuous video playback.

By comparison, the Wolverine unit is huge, looking a lot like those old pocket TV receivers. It's more suited to stick in a jacket pocket than a shirt pocket, measuring in at 5" x 2.6", and more than one inch thick. It's also just about twice as heavy as the iPod. Part of the reason is to accommodate the seven different memory card readers built into the device (CF, Smart Media, Memory Stick, SD, MMC, Microdrive and XD.) There's probably not a camera on the planet whose photos you can't view with this puppy. In spite of the large form factor, the battery life was nothing to write home about, conking out after 110 minutes.

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