by Andrew Robinson

Life in Japan is mobile, especially in sardine-train Tokyo. We’re always moving from place to place—bound for home, workplace, gym or other. This mobility suggests our entertainment can be mobile, be too. In recent months, I’ve found my portable video player [PVP] to be a fantastic way to spend my mobile fun time.

I’ve set my laptop to collect video blogs automatically and to sync this data with my portable device [an iPod touch…it’s amazing] so it’s ready when I’m on the go. TV and feature films are available for purchase from the accompanying iTunes Store, so I have Lost, Desperate Housewives or Pirates of the Caribbean if I want them, but there is so much free video content available it’s staggering. Did you know NASA has a video podcast from the shuttle missions and the International Space Station? How cool is that? The truly inspiring TED conference has recently released over 100, 20-minute video segments covering incredible topics in technology, education and design. The New York Times has short video segments on dining and wine, there’s news from CNN, and stand up shorts from Comedy Central. All this free content, available on my portable device to watch anywhere and any time I need a little distraction or entertainment.

So, what to watch them with? There are many devices and ways to take this great content with you, out in the world. I use an iPod touch [Apple, from ¥36,800] that’s become my constant companion. It currently has music videos, TV and feature films, and up to date selections from the various video blogs I subscribe to. At 120 grams, it’s light enough to carry anywhere. Sony has a new version of their Playstation Portable [Sony PSP, from ¥27,800] that I often see in action, and at 280 grams it doesn’t overburden. The PSP is mainly a game device, however, with movie content limited to the Sony-only UMD disk format, but video blog access was added last year. Rounding out our short list are various models from Archos and iRiver While Apple and Sony have competing distribution services that provide content for their devices, these companies make hardware designed to play various kinds of unprotected ideo formats, with the Archos model allowing for recording off your TV.