No matter how sleek, slim and absurdly portable your personal army of gadgets gets, every device in it has one critical weakness keeping it from true free-roaming independence: Electricity. At the end of the day, even the most rugged portable devices need to return to Mother Power Grid to suckle that sweet, sweet electricity.
For most people living the civilized nine-to-five lifestyle, that dependence on power from the grid doesn’t become much of a problem. After all, the nearest electrical socket is usually only an arm’s length away. But as anyone who’s ever been on the road or lived out of a backpack for a few days can attest, the perpetual quest for the next socket can become a liability in more adventurous circumstances.
The Baylis Eco Media Player achieves true freedom with a built-in crank that can pump out as much electricity as your arms can muster. By harnessing the power of a little elbow grease, it achieves the rare recognition of a being a device that really can go anywhere – and keep running.
The Eco Media Player
Like more common wind-up radios and flashlights, the Eco Media Player uses an internal lithium-ion battery to store charge from the crank, converting a solid minute of winding into about 40 minutes of run time. Since it would hypothetically take an entire half hour of cranking to fill the battery to its entire 20-hour capacity, the player can also be plugged into a powered USB port for a less laborious charge.
As one might expect, the U-shaped player sports a little more bulk than its battery-only counterparts thanks to a long plastic crank that folds out of its back, but it otherwise resembles any other media player. A 1.8-inch LCD screen adorns the front, along with all the usual player control buttons.
The Eco Media Player, while not as compact as similar players, doesn’t skimp on features. It provides all the usual audio and video playback functions, plus an FM radio to tuner to listen to live broadcasts, and a recording function that can use either the built-in microphone or radio tuner as its source. It can also function as a portable hard drive, and display text and photo files on its LCD. There’s even a built-in loudspeaker for playing music without headphones.
Above and beyond its more pedestrian functions, it also has a few more exotic tricks. For those adventures that bring you away from the land of light switches, it has a built-in LED flashlight, and for reviving dead phones, it has a port to send juice from its crank to a variety of common cell phone plugs with included cables. No wall power, no car charger, no problem.
Besides the internal 2GB of memory that come standard with the player (enough for about 500 songs), the Eco Media Player can be expanded by up to 8GB with common SD or SDHC cards. It also shares a common file system with Microsoft Windows, so users can drag and drop files and folders to it without using any third-party software.
The UK-designed Eco Media Player goes for anywhere from £119.95 to £149.99 on its home turf, or $199 from its only listed US distributor. That could, of course, net you a much smaller, sexier player with a lot more storage if you were so inclined, but if keeping your PMP charged up out in the wild is a serious concern, the Eco-Media Player is one of the only options going. More information is available from Baylis’ web site.
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