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My Worst Christmas Present: The VideoNow

Christmas is a time for good food, bright decorations, seeing family and, if you’re me, begging your parents for the most useless portable video player ever made: Hasbro’s VideoNow.

If you were a kid between the years 2003 and 2006, the phrase VideoNow might conjure up memories of brightly coloured commercials and kids way cooler than you’d ever be. The ads played on all the best kids TV networks from Nickelodeon to the Cartoon Network, and to say that eight year old Hannah wanted one was an understatement.

As you can see in the offensively early-2000s video above, the VideoNow was a portable video player made specifically to play kids shows.

The “whenever I want, wherever I want” tagline drew me in as it would any kid who loved TV. The possibility of watching cartoons outside my house was wildly exciting and I envisioned myself watching my favourite shows everywhere from long car journeys to the school playground.

Sure, I could have asked my parents for a portable DVD player, but they were all bigger, made for adults and quite frankly, not as cute.

I actually didn’t have any issues with the VideoNow player itself. The 1.85 x 1.45-inch screen was wide and high quality enough for a kid with absolutely no reference point as to what a good display looked like, and the design was bright and stylish (for the time anyway). At the high price of £70, I could only assume the VideoNow was the future.

Where the VideoNow fell down for me was its disks. The video player, for whatever reason, didn’t use regular CDs or DVDs. Instead, the player specifically required VideoNow’s Personal Video Disks, or PVDs.

Because each PVD could only store about 30 minutes of video, every episode had its own disk. Not only was this not great for the VideoNow’s whole portability aspect (you’d need to carry around at least two disks for an hour of TV), but each set would come with just a handful of disks.

At £8 a set, I couldn’t afford to spend my pocket money on more PVDs and no one else at my school fell victim to VideoNow’s flashy advertisements so I couldn’t trade them with friends, either.

It didn’t take me long to ditch the VideoNow, but Spongebob Squarepants Jellyfish Jam will be forever burned into my retinas.