Monday, January 02, 2006

Hands-on with the iSee 360i

So last night at ShowStoppers (which is probably the weakest of the evening press events that flock around CES) we got to play with the iSee 360i, a new gadget we'd originally feared would turn out to be mere vaporware. In case you missed the announcement the other day, this thing is a dock for the iPod nano, iPod mini, and 4G and 5G iPods that lets you watch video on a 3.6-inch, 320 x 240 LCD screen (by using your iPod as USB mass storage drive to stash video and music and photos). We figured they'd find themselves on the receiving end of a cease & desist from Apple -- or at least the receiving end of some nastly glares from Stevie J. during Macworld next week -- but apparently the company is made up of ex-Apple people who have managed to secure both Jobs' blessing and a license for their dock adapter.

We only spent a few minutes playing with the iSee, but its QVGA screen was bright and clear -- we only wish they'd gone for a widescreen display -- and rather than try and reproduce the iPod's interface, they've decided to go with an icon-based UI that gives you the option of navigating your video and music collection by cover art.
The iSee obviously adds enough to your iPod to make it comparable in size and weight to an Archos AV500, but there's something undeniably clever about a device that lets you add some extra functionality to a gadget you already own. All they've got to do is bring the price down, $249 seems just a little too steep, doesn't it? Either way, their rep, Melanie Vuynovich (who was also our hand model for the shoot) told us that the iSee 360i will ship this quarter, we'll keep an eye out for the launch. Click on for more pics.

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