Aluratek CINEPAL delivers sub $150 8″ HD media player

With all the latest news from the world of tablet computers, you’ll be happy to know that electronics manufacturers have not given up developing products that take one thing, and do it really well. The Aluratek CINEPAL is a good example of that.

Their 8″ HD media player doesn’t do Angry Birds, and it doesn’t come with an App store — but it will support a great array of video, music and photo file formats, including AVI, VOB, DAT, MPG, MPEG, Xvid, DivX, H.264, MKV, & RM / RMVB. The CINEPAL comes with 4GB of memory built in, and can be expanded using SD(HC) memory cards, USB flash drives and even USB hard drives.

Its 1280 x 768 screen supports 720p and 1080i HD video, and it can output HD signals to a TV or other device.

But perhaps the best part is its price — at just a penny shy of $150, this is a fantastically cheap way to watch HD content on the go. Even when you factor in the price of a 32GB memory card, you’ll end up with a sub $200 media player with enough storage for several long haul flights of movies.

To read more about the CINEPAL, or to find (online) retailers, head on over to

Daily deal – Creative Zen 8GB portable media player for $99

In honor of the Apple event being held today, I’ve picked a daily deal that is not an iPod. The Creative Zen 8GB portable media player is a pretty sleek little device with a very impressive lineup of media features.It has been covered in the past by fellow Gadling blogger Tynan.

Naturally, it plays music in MP3 and WMA format, as well as music downloaded from subscription services. The player also supports video, in one of the widest range of formats available; MPEG1, MPEG2, MPEG4, DivX, XviD, MJPEG and WMV9. If none of those abbreviations mean much, don’t worry; it essentially means that the player will display almost any kind of video file you throw at it including protected files from video rental services like Amazon Unbox.

The Zen 8GB also displays your photos, it has an FM radio, a clock/alarm function, an organizer with Microsoft Outlook synchronization and you can use it as a portable 8GB hard drive for storing your important files.

At $99 it is one of the cheapest multipurpose media players on the market, and the price at is about $30 cheaper than most other vendors. Amazon will even ship it for free.

Included in the package is the player, a USB cable, headphones and an installation CD. The 8GB of internal storage is enough for about 2000 songs, but you can expand this with a cheap SD card.

Gadling Gear: Creative ZEN Media Player

Yikes! I promised to write, by last week, about my favorite MP3 player to travel with, and then I didn’t.

In the span of 8 days I visited the island of Miyajima off the coast of Hiroshima, went back to Tokyo, stayed on an island called Yakushima off the southern coast of Japan for four days, and then moved to Taipei, Taiwan. Not much time to write.

However, I’m now settled in the Da-an district of Taipei with a couch and an internet connection, so it’s back to business.

And today’s business is a gem of an MP3 player, the Creative ZEN.

There are two things that make this the best current MP3 player for a serious traveler, as well as a few nice touches that seal the deal. Let’s focus on the big ones first.

1. Massive Storage

It’s competitor, the Apple iPod Nano comes in either 4 or 8gb models. The ZEN doesn’t stop there – it goes up to 16gb and 32gb. That makes it the highest capacity mp3 player with no moving parts.

As if that wasn’t enough storage, it has an SD slot to add up to 16gb more space. That means that you can carry up to 48gb of music, tv shows, and movies with you at all times.

No other tiny player (the ZEN is only 2.1 ounces) comes close here. On my trip to Yakushima, which involved a 9 hour train ride and 4 hour ferry ride both ways, I watched several BBC documentaries, listened to a few hours of Jay-Z, and did a few French tapes. Plenty of room for everything, and I only have the 16gb model.

2. Fantastic Battery Life

Even though it has a bigger screen than the Nano, the ZEN gets slightly better battery life. The battery life is so good that I just never think about charging it. It lasts for about 25 hours playing audio or five playing video.

In practical terms that means that you charge it before your trip and it’s going to last until you get there, even when your flight is delayed twice and you have to wait for your bag for an hour before taking a taxi into town.

When it is time to charge it, you just use the tiny little USB cord and plug it into your computer. The cord is only 3 inches long so you don’t have to coil it and make a mess of you bag. This, of course, is the same cable that you use to load new media onto the player.

The little bugger charges extremely quickly too – maybe 1-2 hours for a full charge.

Ok, if that isn’t enough to convince you that the Creative ZEN is the best media player for die hard travelers, here are a few more little things that I love about it.

1. The built in alarm is perfect. You set it and it will go off even if the player is turned off. If I want to nap on a train but make sure that I wake up for my stop I just put my Etymotics in, set the alarm, and go to sleep.

2. The ZEN automatically remembers where you left off last time. If you decide to put you movie on pause and do a language lesson, it will automatically bring you back to your position in the movie when you get back to it.

3. Copying to it is easy. No need for iTunes or anything stupid like that. Hook it up to any computer with the tiny little cable and you can instantly transfer music.

That’s about it. My only complaint is that the screen is glossy. This seems to be the popular thing to do these days, but I much prefer a matte finish. Oh, and I wish the 32gb one was out when I bought mine. I’m stuck with a “measly” 16gb.

You can get yours on Amazon like I did.