I love my friend’s Gmini 400… it’s tiny, plays VIDEO, and is the same price as the “next best thing”. Our newspaper had him write an article about it, in a point-counterpoint about the iPod.
iFound aBetter iPod
If you walk into any electronics store or high school, you’re very likely to see a common item; the iPod. These portable music players have become immensely popular over the past few years, especially among teenagers. Millions have been sold, and every kid seems to want one. Is the iPod really the best and coolest device out there?
Several weeks ago, I set out to find the answer. I searched through dozens of reviews, and in the end I found it: the Archos Gmini 400. Most people haven’t heard of them, but Archos has been making media players longer than Apple. The Gmini 400 is oriented sideways, with controls on the left and right of the screen, as well as three small buttons below it. These correspond to the actions displayed above them on the screen.
The Gmini is compact. It’s a petit 4.2” wide, 2.4” tall, and .69” thick, which is about the size of a deck of cards. In terms of size and weight, it’s between a ‘vanilla’ iPod and an iPod color. A quick glance at the silver and black case and eleven different controls shows the Gmini 400 isn’t as simple as the iPod, but this is easily made up for by the device’s features.
The Gmini has a superb built-in microphone, 20 GB capacity, TV and Stereo output, an internal rechargeable battery for 10 hours of music playback, and even a Compact Flash camera card reader slot. You can create and transfer playlists on your computer or the Gmini, and search/sort your songs according to Artist, Album, Genre, and more. It has a 2.2” color screen and customizable background—and this can be had for as little as $300, the price of a 20 GB iPod. But the biggest blow has yet to land.
In the Gmini 400, Archos included the next ‘big thing’ in personal media players, which is completely lacking in all iPods. The Gmini can play video files on its color screen, or hook up to a TV for movie playback. Not even the iPod photo, which cost $350-450, supports video playback. The Gmini can handle the popular DivX and XviD video formats with MP3, WMA and WAV audio tracks—and it includes software for converting video files if necessary.
If you think it’s enjoyable to listen to music on a plane or bus ride, you haven’t seen anything yet. Being able to pull out the tiny Gmini and play your favorite movie scenes or home videos, on its screen or a TV, is endlessly entertaining, and something that iPod users can’t brag about. Sure, you only get five hours of video playback with the Gmini, but that’s better than the zero hours you’ll get from an iPod.
I was so amazed by all the reviews that I read about the Gmini that I purchased one of my own. After testing it to the limits, I can honestly say it’s the most amazing portable media player I’ve ever seen. If you don’t believe it, ask me to see it. But the overall moral of the story is simple: When you spend hundreds of dollars on a trendy electronic device, demand the very best. Don’t settle for a popular fad—I didn’t.
—Ian ****** ‘05