By >Daimaou - G.G-B
Nikon Media Port UP300x Head-Mounted Display PMP: Review
Last October ( 2008 ), Nikon surprised the world with their UP300x, a Head-Mounted Display PMP wonder with nothing in common with the usual camera stuff we see coming out of Nikon.
Produced in a limited quantity, the UP300x is now available in Japan and we thought we should get our hands on this little baby to find out if it’s life altering our life or not.
Before going deeper in our review here’s some general info on the UP300x. It’s the result of more than 8 years of research and development from the ideas and concepts of a single engineer, Kato Shigeru. Kato-San explained the idea behind the UP came to him while he was commuting to and from work and traveling around on Shinkasens during business. He wanted to create a full audio and video experience without completely shutting out the world… Now the UP300x is a reality.
The meaning of UP
If you wonder what UP stands for, Nikon and Kato-san have several meaningful answers. It was taken from a number of word combinations that can be used to described the broad functionality and uses of this product, including “Universal Port”, “Ubiquitous Player”, “Ultimate Player”, “U (your) Partner”, “U (your) Pleasure”, and “U (your) Power”. As the first product in a brand new genre, they chose the name “UP” for both its simplicity and its presence.
How does it Work?
The UP300x (8GB) and the UP300 (4B), are average high-end audio headphones under steroids. They have basic MP3 functions, the obvious head-mounted display and its 0.44” resolution (providing the equivalent of a 50” screen), WiFi, and a nice and elegant GUI.
Compatible with the basic audio and video standards like MP3, WMA9 (DRM 10 compatible), AAC, but also JPEG photos or Mpeg-1/2 WMV9 or SWF files, the UPP300 series is similar to the average PMP. It’s interesting to note that Nikon made it easy to use other external sources. If unfortunately the cable provided was not compatible with my iPhone and my iPod 5G, you can normally watch video stored on an iPod and any other device with video out, the same applies for audio files. You can watch a DVD on the plane from your portable DVD player directly on the screen on your UP300.
The Network Player UP300
A Nikon and Kato-San idea behind the UP300 was not only to give you a PMP, but also a different approach to videos and online content. Once connected to a network, you can directly access a UP300 Portal for access to video or audio programs. You can enjoy video clips when and wherever you want (if you have a network connection or access to one of Nikon’s UPxHOTSPOT).
So far the number of program is limited, but Nikon is working on expanding the UP300 experience by providing unique content… An example they gave us was dedicated content and general information when shopping in different areas of a department store… Imagine you are queuing-up to watch a movie, your UP300 could give you access tomovie data, teaser videos, and info on other movies.
While the UP300 Series is a finish product, the overall concept behind this next generation network Walkman is still under development. Put simply, Nikon defined some ideas and ways for using the UP300, but left room for the user. After all, the UP300 can be used in many different settings, like helping you to learn an instrument. You can view lesson videos with one one eye and still see what you’re are doing with your guitar or piano with the other. Same applies for cooking or if you’re a mechanic you can get tips on how to restore your old Corvette from online video feeds.
So, you tested it, how good it is?
To be honest, the first few days were difficult. We needed time to get used to it and finding reasons for using it. If you use the UP300 only as a PMP you may be a bit disappointed, with only one eye to watch a movie will quickly give a headache and Nikon recommends not viewing video for more than one hour at a time.
If you use the UP300 first as a MP3 player, you can get video information while passing the time waiting in queues, waiting rooms and on subways and trains. As I said earlier, you have to understand its limitations in order to use it wisely, and I really enjoyed watching a 15 minute news program walking home… Since the screen is not intrusive, I could enjoy my news program with confidence to walk the streets safely.
Product Quality and finish
The first words that come to you when you get the UP300 in your hands are “WOW, it’s cool.” Yes the UP300 is really cool and well built, it feels strong and luxurious. On your head the headphone pads are fantastic and very comfortable, the sound quality is great and the screen, when fitted it correctly to your eye, is brilliant and crystal clear.
Same applies to the GUI, but you’ll have to get used to playing with the buttons on the side of the headphones to navigate between menus.
The UP300 Series is an interesting concept and a really high-end product. Definitely not made for everyone, don’t expect to get the perfect PMP player experience, but once you understand its limitation the UP300 can be very useful… Anyone can find a use for it if they really think a bit about it. I really like the idea of getting guitar lessons with video, but I am sure you could find other ideas on how to use it. I also love the Network concept, it would be great to get information in department stores and waiting areas… Due to UP300 limitations, I’m not sure many companies will provide services and info for it.