November 28, 2008 Here’s one we didn’t see coming. Nikon is much better known for capturing media through its cameras and lenses so the announcement of a multi-tasking portable viewer might have slipped past the media gaze as one of those weird things photographers have. It’s not – it’s for everyone and we think the Wi-Fi ready Media Port UP headset, which offers video comparable to viewing a 50-inch large screen from a distance of three meters and motion sensor control, could well find a niche among the emerging crop of portable media viewing solutions.
The Media Port UP (apparently "UP" can stand for a number of things including "universal port", "ubiquitous player", "ultimate player" or "U (your) partner") looks like a conventional audio headset but in place of the microphone there's an adjustable 0.44-inch, 640 x 480 transmissive LCOS display for viewing images and video. Throw in Internet browsing via Wi-Fi capability, up to 8 GB internal memory and some clever control functionality and you have a very useful piece of all-in-one, hands-free viewing hardware.
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Two UP models will be available - though only in Japan - the high-end UP300x (8 GB), and base-level UP300 (4 GB). The primary differences are that the 300x model includes an A/V input for direct connection of portable devices and a built-in motion sensor that allows for operation by simple head movements. This is in addition to the one-handed control provided by the "multi selector" located on the outside of on of the ear-cups which consists of a center dial surrounded by four buttons that work in conjunction with the display to deliver simple, intuitive control. There's also the option of an Infrared remote control.
The UP300x can be connected to portable A/V devices with an output terminal, including cellular telephones and audio players. This provides a new way to enjoy existing image, video, and music libraries. (The optional A/V cable is required for connection. Connection may not be possible depending upon the existence of an A/V output terminal, connector shape, and output specifications of the A/V device.)
The diminutive screen is a result of the adoption of the company's new adhesion double-layer diffractive optical element (DOE) lens which, as the name suggests, uses diffraction rather than refraction to change the direction of the light. Incorporated with a liquid crystal display and backlight, this diffraction grating provides zoom functionality, suppresses chromatic aberration for crisp, clear VGA images and enables the weight to be kept down to approximately 1/7 that of Nikon's conventional lens optics designs.
To enhance comfort and usability the arm which holds the display is fitted with two flexible joints and a retracting mechanism for optimum adjustment. A "Fit Navigator" displayed on the screen also assists the user to find the ideal position and a high eyepoint and diopter adjustment also makes the display easier to use for those who wear glasses and when viewing images with one eye, the focusing distance to the images or videos being viewed can be matched to the eye that's looking outwards. Finally, there's an automatic image brightness adjustment function which changes the screen brightness according to ambient light conditions - an innovation that's also geared towards use for viewing with one eye.
On the audio side of the equation the UP boasts integrated high-quality speakers and an amplifier along with large, comfortable earpads made from soft viscoelastic urethane.
The unit runs on two AA batteries and when used with the Ni-MH rechargeable batteries supplied it can deliver uninterrupted video playback of up to 120 minutes or music playback of up to 270 minutes.
Nikon also plans to launch a dedicated video distribution service for UP users. The UP 300x costs JPY 69,800 and the UP 300 costs JPY59,800 (approx. USD$730 and 625 respectively at time of publication). Read on for detailed specs.
Media Port UP specifications:
- Display: 0.44-in. transmissive LCOS with 640 x 480 x 3 dots and 16,770,000 colors
- Lens: Adhesion double-layer DOE lens with a diagonal of approximately 24°
- Speaker unit: Sealed dynamic type that supports playback frequencies of 3-25,000 Hz
- Input terminal: Multi connector
- Power source: Two AA batteries
- Storage medium: Built-in flash memory: 4 GB (UP300)/8 GB (UP300x)
- File formats:Movie: MPEG-1, MPEG-2, WMV9 (DRM 10 compatible), Audio: MP32, WMA9 (DRM 10 compatible), AAC2, Still image: JPEG, Other: SWF (Flash Player 7 compatible)
- Interface: Hi-Speed USB
- Wireless LAN: 802.11b/g protocols within a range of 20 m (line of sight)
- Video input(UP300x): Images: NTSC, 1 Vp-p/75Ω Audio: 500 mVrms/47 KΩ
- Flash: Version 7
- Operating environment: Ambient temperature: 0~40°C
- Humidity: 85% or less (no condensation)
- Weight: 385 g (including supplied batteries)
- Supplied accessories: UC-UP1 USB cable, 2 Sanyo "eneloop" rechargeable batteries(HR-3UTG), NC-MDR02 battery charger, AL-UP1 angle limiter, Soft Pouch SC-UP1