DM-Tech AV-10

Tired of staring at the playlist on your MP3? Looking for something to keep you occupied on those long journeys? Bored of Java gaming? Perhaps a multimedia player would fill the gap.

DM-Tech presents the most compact recordable multimedia player available in the UK to date. But does it match up to the wealth of converged devices that offer JPEG, MP3 and MPEG4 capture and playback?

This is a tough, well-sized multimedia viewer, just 3.5 inches long with a 5” colour backlight TFT LCD screen. Featuring retro metal buttons, and covers for the USB slot and memory card. The left hand edge has a selection of discrete slide switches for hold, LCD on/off and NTSC/PAL. The cylindrical top piece, built into a rectangular shape and the unit really does sit nicely in the hand. If you use the lanyard though, the headphones plug into what becomes the bottom of the unit, causing a bit of a tangle with the headphones. No great problem as the AV10 is small enough for the pocket.

It can record and play back from your CD or MP3 player via direct input- subject to the obvious sound quality issues of a line out cable. Memory might be an issue, but in theory, it records movies direct from DVD or VCR, TV or Camcorder.

There is support for most major file formats across sound, still and steaming, MP3, MPEG, AVI, and the AV-10 has three levels of encoding and recording, ranging from 90 mins in economy to 30 mins in fine.

At full charge, the Lithium Ion battery provides approximately two hours of video viewing time or up to four hours of music. You can charge the battery from the mains adapter provided, or direct from your PC via USB cable if you prefer. A full charge takes approximately two hours, whether from USB or the power pack.

With only 128MB onboard memory, it's a good job the SD/MMC slot will take cards up to 1GB in size, if you can afford them. Factor in the cost of memory as 128MB of flash memory will only hold about 40 MP3s max and the lion's share of this is assigned to running the software.

Sadly, there are no wireless connection options, BlueTooth and InfraRed being conspicuous by their absence.
The good news is however that it runs pretty well with Windows and there is no issue transferring files direct from Windows Media player, or the PC version of Itunes, if that's more your thing.
If you need to simply shift files between devices, it does that too, but bear in mind the memory and connection limitations.

The bad news is that the VM10 isn't suitable for Mac users. To transfer data onto the device by any means other than memory card, you'll need Windows ME/2000/XP with Pentium III 1 GHz or faster CPU, as well as USB 2.0 and 256MB available memory.

The on screen navigation is basic, but clear, backed up by a comprehensive instructional manual. Look to the top edge for range of tactile buttons and a jog dial. These buttons are kept out of view from the font- pleasing to the eye when watching the unit propped on the tilt stand, which is also included. The package comes with leads and a carry case too.

Verdict

The DM-Tech is well crafted, but not competitively priced in relation to the competition players (check out Mustek's PVR-A1, only 32MB on board memory, but only £120), but it does offer upgradeable external memory and is pretty user friendly. The file menus use a tree hierarchy, which makes it easy to find content without trawling up and down directories.

On the other hand, the peak memory limit is 1GB- if you have a large catalogue of DivX ready to transfer or even just for MP3 use you're going to need a large card.
Despite the clear screen image, playback is slow (there's only 128MB flash to draw on) and memory is soon in short supply.
Good news on the USB battery recharge time of 2 hours, but bad news for Mac Users, this being PC compatible only.

A cool and useful tool on those long journeys or into work commutes. We like it, but to challenge the HDD MP3 players, or to challenge the wealth of portable DVD players, it needs more built-in memory. The max recording time is just 35 minutes.


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