Portable media players (PMP) have become quite popular recently and even Apple has followed the trend with the latest generation of iPODs. The i-Station i2 is something a little out of the ordinary, not because of its size, screen resolution or storage capacity, but rather because it has a touch sensitive screen much like a PDA.
You might wonder why a touch screen would be of any use on a video player. Well, first off it reduces the amount of buttons needed to control the device, while the i-Station also has a few extra features that you won’t find on most PMPs. Besides playing DivX, XviD, MPEG 1/2/4 at up to 30fps coded with a maximum resolution of 720 x 480 – it is also supports SMI and SRT subtitle formats. Of course the i2 also plays MP3, WMA, AAC and OGG files, so you can use it as a portable music player as well as for video. It also supports AC3 audio streams when playing video with digital audio – the signal is sent out through an external S/PDIF interface, although it’s unlikely that you’ll be carrying a set of surround sound speakers with you.
Add an FM radio to the mix and things are starting to look pretty good, although it doesn’t support RDS, which is a shame - the large screen would’ve been ideal for displaying the additional information. However, you can record radio programmes. Some rather unusual features include an English dictionary with recorded pronunciations of the various words, as well as a game mode which allows you to play Xovia .xov games - just don’t ask me were you get hold of more games.
The i2 does of course have a file manager, so you can delete files that you don’t need. However, this doesn’t seem to display unrecognised file formats, which is odd since these are likely to be exactly the files you want to delete. An e-book reader is also present and will read standard text files. For some reason a paint application – think Paint in Windows – has made it to the software line up. I’m not quite sure why this is, as the low resolution screen doesn’t really allow for image editing and the quality of drawings using the stylus are far to jaggy for any sensible kind of use.