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You can palm this digital video recorder.
The RoverTv is like a high-tech VCR you can put in your pocket. It not only displays photos and plays video and audio, but it can also record video from just about any source with standard AV connectors.
We tested the widescreen RoverTv, which has a bright 4-inch screen (the standard version's screen is 3.5 inches) that makes the iPod's 2.5-inch screen seem minuscule. The RoverTv measures 4.13 by 2.75 by 0.6 inches, and it weighs only 5.5 ounces (for comparison, an 80GB iPod is 2.4 by 4.1 by .55 inches and weighs the same). To maximize screen size, the RoverTv's buttons are lined up on the top and right side of the device. This creates a clean look, but the button layout isn't intuitive. The Menu and Escape buttons, which are on the top, would work better located next to the navigation keys on the right side instead.
The 2GB SD memory card it comes with seemed a bit paltry at first, although you can always use additional cards or get larger-capacity ones. It turns out that 2GB is a good size to start with; the included card can hold about four hours of video or 2,800 MP3s.
The RoverTv connects to your Mac via USB, and you can drag and drop MPEG-4-formatted videos to the device (iMovie HD, QuickTime Pro, and Final Cut Pro can reformat your clips as MPEG-4 if needed). But capturing video directly from a source is where all the fun happens. You connect the RoverTv to your DVD player, TV, or VCR, and then press Record on the RoverTv or set the timer to record while you’re away. The device records video as an ASF file, which means that if you copy the files over to your Mac, you need to convert them to a Mac-friendly format for use in iMovie HD or any other application. The RoverTv can't play movies or TV shows purchased at the iTunes Store; only your Mac and iPod can play those protected files.
The image quality of the video clips won't blow you away (we noticed a lot of dithering and washed-out colors), but it's adequate for catching up on the latest episodes of that reality show you've been following.
The bottom line. As a stand-alone, portable media player, the RoverTv is a capable gadget for easy video to go.
COMPANY: Doghouse Electronics
PRICE: $349 (widescreen), $299 (standard screen)
REQUIREMENTS: Mac OS X, USB
Nice screen size. Easy to record video. Easy file transfers.
Recorded video needs conversion to Mac-friendly format. Mediocre video-capture quality. Can't play content purchased from the iTunes Store.