• United States

Portable multimedia

Apr 10, 20064 mins

Last week BackSpin touched on the immense pain in the butt that having content in a proprietary format can be if you want to use it on a system that doesn’t support that format.

As was pointed out, should you want to play your iTunes digital rights management-protected music on players that aren’t iPods you are SOL unless you want to jump through hoops such as burning an audio CD and ripping the tracks to MP3 or whatever format you need.

We have looked for an alternative and only found tools that work with pre-iTunes 6-protected files, or that resort to using iTunes to play the file and grab the sound card output and save it in a file. If you know a way to convert protected iTunes 6 files to another format, let us know.

The reason we want to know is that we just got our hands on a Wolverine MVP 60GB Portable Multimedia Storage and Player, and we wanted to load some music we just purchased from iTunes so we could be entertained on our next airplane flight. Unless you guys come up with something we’ll have to resort to our old content.

The Wolverine weighs 10 ounces, sports a good-quality, 2.5-inch, 720-by-480-pixel color LCD (pictures and movies look very good, and video at up to 30 frames per second is smooth), and has a USB 2.0 interface for uploading and downloading content. The Wolverine MVP claims to have a battery life that will transfer 20GB of data, eight hours of music playback, or three and a half hours of video playback on a single charge, but so far we haven’t managed to use it for more than four hours at a stretch.

Physically the Wolverine is a little on the large side (5.04 by 3.01 by 1.2 inches). The front face contains the screen and controls – power on and off, escape and menu buttons along with a joystick.

The Wolverine is, to say the least, versatile. It can display text files, photos (JPEG, TIFF, BMP and some RAW formats), play videos (Motion-JPEG, MPEG-1, MPEG-4 and xvid), and play audio content (MP3, WMA, AAC and WAV) as well as record audio.

For anyone who needs to back up memory cards the Wolverine is really useful. It has slots for seven types of media: Compact Flash, 3.3V MicroDrive, Secure Digital, Multimedia Card, Memory Stick and Memory Stick Pro, Smart Media and XD. When a memory card is inserted the Wolverine automatically recognizes it and pops up a menu offering to back up the entire card or just the image files on it.

Two card slots (SM and SD/MMC/MS) are located on the left side of the Wolverine, along with a remote-control infrared sensor port (it comes with a remote control), a thumbwheel for photo zoom or volume, depending on the content being displayed, a mini-USB port, and an AC power socket. The right side houses a Compact Flash/MicroDrive socket (under a rubber cover) along with sockets for audio in, audio out, and composite video out (you can select either phase-altering line or National Television Standard Code output).

Aesthetically there isn’t much. The Wolverine is ugly. Its color is described as “Ferrari red,” which is not quite accurate – a loud, cheap plastic red would be more accurate.

In fact the Wolverine is really an OEM version of a product from Asia, the VP6230 from Vosonic, which has a silver finish that looks far more designed than the Wolverine’s red finish. That said, the overall design of both versions is a little crude – the user interface, while perfectly functional, is not very slick, and the physical design of the buttons and joystick have a curiously ’70s feel to them.

Bottom line: Forgetting the aesthetics (or lack thereof), this is a cool device. It performs well for picture or movie viewing, doesn’t require proprietary formats, can back up many types of memory cards and is a very good audio player. You also can set music to play in the background while you view photos, and it has long battery life.

We really like this product and at around $200 for the 60GB version it is highly competitive with the 60GB Apple iPod priced at $400.

Now if you can just tell us how to get iTunes downloads to play on it, we’ll be really happy. Your advice can be dispensed on Gibbsblog or drop us a line at


Mark Gibbs is an author, journalist, and man of mystery. His writing for Network World is widely considered to be vastly underpaid. For more than 30 years, Gibbs has consulted, lectured, and authored numerous articles and books about networking, information technology, and the social and political issues surrounding them. His complete bio can be found at

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