Having made a new rep for itself with surprisingly decent portable DVD players, Polaroid is now venturing into MP3 and portable media players. In 2007, the company formerly known for its instant cameras will release three MP3 and portable media players (none of which handle AAC audio files), including one with a 4.3-inch wide touch-screen and two with Wi-Fi.
The first player, the MPA-20011 (due it March, $99.99 list price) is a 1GB model that can be expanded to up to 4GB with a micro SD card. The 20011 is slightly bigger than a Nano but sports a non-Nano-like 2.2-inch color-screen. It plays MP3 and WMA audio files, MPEG-4 and WMV videos, displays JPEGs, includes an FM player and voice recorder, and runs for 25 hours on a single charge of its lithium ion battery. Best of all, operations are vastly simplified by a spine-mounted scroll wheel, a back button familiar to any Blackberry user (will RIM sue?), and three red backlit transport keys under the screen.
Polaroid will out-Zune and out-iPod the major players this summer with its Wi-Fi-equipped MPA-28216. Behind the 2.8-inch screen is a 30GB hard drive that stores and plays all the A/V files of the 20011, but adds AVI video playback, WAV compatibility for audio and BMP image support, and a more traditional navigation and transport control array. Its Wi-Fi will let you connect to an unnamed music store, or with Polaroid's DEC1000, a sort-of Media Center "lite" to control and access your PC-based media files. A non-Wi-Fi version will sell for an estimated $249.99; the Wi-Fi version will go for either $279.99 or $299.99, although pricing at retail isn't as likely to be as tightly controlled as it is for iPods and Zunes.
Last, but not least, is the Wi-Fi-enabled MPA-43315 (due in fall 2007, priced at $329.99 without Wi-Fi, $349.99 with Wi-Fi), which displays its A/V wares on a 4.3-inch 16:9 touchscreen. Other than the larger screen, the 40GB hard drive 43315 offers all the features and format playback of the 28216.
The only things left is to work on are those awkward names -- their not quite as catchy as their competition. But according to the company, these players may sell under a different brand label.