IFA 2006: SanDisk V-Mate memory card recorder
There aren’t many gadgets coming out these days that don’t come with some kind of movie playing capabilities, no matter how impractical the screen size is. However, actually getting video content on to them is usually a real pain. The SanDisk V-Mate, announced today at IFA, looks like a practical solution to this; it connects to an analogue audio and video output from pretty much any source you like, then records straight to the card. And it has been designed with small portable video players in mind.
It has a maximum recording resolution of 640 x 480, which makes it suitable for small screens, and means you can fit around three and a half hours of footage per gigabyte. The V-Mate is compatible with SD, MMC, MMCplus MMCmobile, SDHC, MiniSDHC, MicroSDHC, Memory Stick PRO, Memory Stick Duo and Memory Stick PRO Duo – that should have all your bases covered then.
To program it you can use a TV-based interface that lets you adjust control settings, record and access content. The unit also includes an infrared emitter. This will automatically turn on the TV tuner box (cable/satellite/terrestrial receiver or VCR) and select the right channel when programmed to record. You can connect it to a computer using a mini-USB connection.
What isn’t immediately clear is how you make sure your recorded videos are saved in a file structure compatible with your media playing device. Anyone who has tried to move digital videos to their PSP will know you need to use the right folder and a specific file naming system to make them viewable. Hopefully SanDisk will have found a way to solve this problem.
The V-Mate is coming out in October and has a retail price of $130 (around £70).
Update: I asked a SanDisk representative about the file structure recording issue, he explained that the V-Mate will have special ‘end-device’ modes (it looks like PSP will be one of those) that can be selected and will record to the right location specific to your player. Firmware updates should mean that SanDisk can cover most major devices as well. You will also be able to name your files whatever you like.
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please note this item does NOT work properly with the PSP. Whern recording the bottom portion of the screen breaks-up into blocks of solid colour. Also even on it’s highest setting the records have a real problem with movement and the picture de-resses alarmingly. SanDisk claim to be working on fixing this but have released no new firmware patch for some months.
One last issue, it does not have any concept of 16:9 (widescreen) aspect ratio so any programs broadcast in widescreen are stretched when watched back on any device.
Nice idea but very badly executed.