20 November 2005
13 July 2006 (See
bottom of page)
19 Dec 2006 - Apparently Tiger has re-named the VuGo as
the TV Now (TVNow). It is selling for as little as $25.00.
seem to have dropped the whole thing about copying video from your PC,
and are marketing it as only being able to record video from TV (which
is all that worked for me anyway). I may be naive, but I think
the change in strategy may have been partially a result of this review.
Final Update Apr 2012:
This page still gets some hits, but
the VuGo, the TVNow, and the alternative video players I mentioned have
all faded into the history of technology. Today, All Android
Tablets are Linux Slates. Many different Android devices are intended
as media players, and even if they are primarily internet tablets, most
can function well as media players.
- Searches for "TV Now" would not find this page as easily.
Since those 2 words are far more generic than "VuGo" it is harder for
the search engines to get you to reviews such as this one.
- Mentioning only TV recording avoids my complaint, and possible
legal implications, of the advertising on the package (see below), as
well as many of the other issues mentioned in my review.
I have reason to believe that only the marketing has changed and that
the firmware has not even been touched, let alone fixed. Another
review indicates that the issue of very loud, and unadjustable sound
during record is still present. If they had a firmware update, I
think they would have fixed this. There is nothing in the VuGo
menus that would betray it's previous marketing. I am quite sure
that "TV Now" (or "TVNow") and "VuGo" are the same device and same
There is still no mention of screen resolution, and a large yellow
sticker on the packaging that covers the screen. Covering the
screen may keep the experienced eye from determining the display
technology. I strongly recommend avoiding any such product that
seems to hide the display technology or specifications.
Original Rewiew of the Vugo Portable Media
I just saw these in WalMart for the
first time today. Being a member of a family that travels allot
with young children, my eye is always out for ways to entertain
them. Given that I am also very gadget happy, and sort of cheap,
the thought of a small, inexpensive, flash-based media player
got several of my
neurons firing at the same time. That rarely happens. Have
no fear though, it didn't last long.
VuGo by Tiger.
I did a few quick Google searches on the device, and found -- Very
little. I found several product announcements, all of
which were very similar. These included "Specifications" such as:
- "Record or download TV shows, music or photos"
- "Easy to use"
- "File management software makes it easy to store and access your
VUGO favorites on the computer."
These are Features,
folks !! I never could find simple specifications such as the
screen resolution. That includes checking the box, and
VuGo.com. I also did almost an hour of Google searches. I
finally found a post
that the VuGo was essentially the same device as the ZVUE
Media Player (Link
Below). The ZVUE pages do have specs, and list the resolution as
160 x 240.
With such poor information available, I had my last
incentive to go buy one -- I could write a review !
Buying one was somewhat interesting in itself. Here are some
different prices I saw:
- WalMart: $124.?? (I guess 124.88, isn't everything
$xx.88 at WalMart?) Sorry I did not remember it exactly.
- List Price, as reported by various product announcements:
$119.95 (Gee -- WalMart is selling over list !)
- Target.com: $99.95 (Online Sale Price)
- In Target - Price on the peg: $119.95
- In Target - Scanned price: $119.95
- In Target - Price at register: $99.95 (First time I
ever saw the scanned price and the register price be different.)
"Out of the Box" Experience
OK, for $99 I
don't expect a whole lot. The case
is just plastic, but the feel is kinda nice, all things
considered. I really like the form factor, and the back of the
unit is contoured to be better to hold.
Back of the VuGo is contoured for grip.
The buttons are cheap
feeling, (more on that later) but well located. It's a fraction the
size of any portable DVD player. I kinda like the
fact that it runs on AAA batteries - no worrying about
charging, or how many charge/discharge cycles you have left on a
battery pack that costs half the price of the device. If you
want to watch more while traveling, AAA cells are available almost
Update below]. Also, the SD/MMC card slot has a cover, and does
push-to-eject feature. This is important to both those who bite
their nails down to blood, or for those who like to keep their nails
really nice -- OK, I guess the nail bitting and blood bit has no
part in a review like this, but I do have a pet-peeve about
gadgets that lack this simple feature.
Top of VuGo, Showing (Left to Right)
the Headphone Jack,
Power Button, SD slot and cover (open) and the Volume buttons.
The left side has the AV input jack, and
the screen adjustment. The right side has the mini USB port (same
style as seen on many inexpensive Cameras, MP3 Players, etc.) and the
DC power jack. Someone reported that their DC power plug fit very
loosely in the machine, and would fall out or loose contact - sometimes
while recording. I can say that this is NOT a problem on my unit
once the plug is fully inserted.
The first thing
you notice is the screen. Sorry
to say, but it is terrible.
Given that a PlayStation Portable
(PSP) costs twice as much, and the screen is more than twice as big, it
is (IMHO) fair to expect at least similar quality over the smaller
area. Forget it. The brightness is fine, and the contrast
is easily adjustable by a (analog) wheel on the left side, but I can
see why they won't readily tell you the resolution.
So the Box
and website says:
following media file formats are supported by VUGO:
- Photo: BMP, TIF,
JPG, GIF, PNG
- Video: WMV, ASF,
- Music: MP3, WAV
And it has a SD card slot right? So a good quick test would be to
stick some JPEG's, MP3's, and AVI's on a SD card and pop it in the
machine right? Well -- this
The VuGo reported that there were no Movies,
Music, or Pictures on the card. OK -- let the VuGo
format the card, and then try - perhaps there is a specific directory
structure or something. Sure enough it does create 3
directories, music, movies, and photos. So I re-copy the files to
the appropriate directories. Still the VuGo recognizes none of
them !!! What they mean is that
the PC (or Mac) Software supports those file types NOT the VuGo.
IANAL (I am not a lawyer), but I think we are getting really close to
misleading advertising here. I was really hoping for a nice,
small, inexpensive media player that would play standard file formats.
Recording Some Video: The VuGo
can record video and
music directly from any line-level source. Given the failure to play
standard media types off the SD card, I thought I'd try recording some
video. The "Octopus" cable included with the VuGo makes
connecting the VuGo for recording very straigtht forward. The VuGo has
a manual record mode and a
VCR-like timer. I
manually recored some cartoons for the kids. This worked, but
I have several complaints:
the recording, the sound came out of the VuGo speaker at a
very high volume, and I was unable to turn it down or off.
the quality set to "Best", video was
smooth, i.e. good framerate, but the resolution is so low that it is
more an impression of a picture than
actually watching what was recorded. It is
fine for a child to watch a cartoon on, but that is about all.
- I was able to fit 2 half-hour
cartoons in the built-in 128M Flash,
and 2 more on a 128M MMC card. I recorded them using the "Good"
quality setting, and as I said, the quality was fine for a cartoon. Due
to the nature of compressed video, you can record
a lot more cartoons than you can "real world" video in a given amount
memory. (I suppose you want me to explain this in 5 words or
had some difficulty adjusting the volume during playback. After some
fiddling, I found that I had to press the (- Vol) button toward the
right side (almost between the buttons) to get it to work. Even with
this, it seemed to have very few steps
of volume. There is
no on-screen display of the volume setting.
is a pause button, but no Fast Forward or Rewind. If your child
(or you) hits a button by accident, there is no way to get back to the
point where you were. There is also no key lockout to prevent
this. You also cannot pause the video, power off the device, and then
Despite the above, I will say that on several occasions the VuGo -
loaded with a few episodes of "Dora The Explorer" did keep a 3
year old quiet.
DRM: (Disclaimer: As of this
writing, I have not tried the VuGo software, so this section is more
of a rant than a review.) The
will not work as a standard USB storage device. A given VuGo
"paired" to a single PC or Mac. Additionally, only a maximum of 2
VuGo's can be paired to a PC. Got 3 kids? tough. The VuGo
content is managed by the VuGo PC software, and syncronization takes
place when the VuGo is connected via USB. The VuGo software
translates the various file formats into the respective VuGo formats.
must assume that this is done to prevent file-swapping. It's the
VuGo version of DRM
(Digital Rights Management - Wikipedia link
below). I am sure
you can see the horrendous damage that would be done to our economy if
my son should swap an episode of "SpongeBob SquarePants"
with his friend down the street; Or worse than that -- think of the
frightening possibilty that some kid may record an episode of the
"Backyardigans" in the VuGo's couple pixel by couple pixel resolution,
and it should get out on a Peer-To-Peer network. I am shaking with
horror at the mere possibility. What's
really amazing is that they
may have found the one true way to make DRM that nobody will
crack: Make the device so lousy that nobody will bother to try.
on the Web: Think my criticism is going to stop with just
the device and its software? Nope!
If you surf to VuGo.com, you
notice 2 things immediately: First, it is infested with Shockwave, and
second, there's not much there.
I will not be continuing this review as previously promised for
the following reasons:
- In my area, the VuGo seems to have been discontinued. (Gee,
wonder why?) Update:
Re-Branded, not discontinued. Update: Now gone.
- I no longer use mine.
- I discovered
another serious problem. The VuGo seems to run the AAA batteries down
in a matter of days even when it is
- I have found something that is a little more
expensive, but a much better unit:
If you are looking for
something that basically fits the description of the VuGo, but is much
more capable, I recommend the GP2X. (See Links
Below). The GP2X sells in the US for $189.99 (With free shipping as of this
writing). The GP2X does not record TV without separate
hardware, but it did pass
all my quick tests mentioned above. It plays many standard
formats without conversion, and appears as a standard USB storage
device when plugged into any Windows, Mac, or Linux system. It
also currently contains no DRM limits or locks, and the company that
makes it (Gamepark Holdings) has promised that DRM will only apply to
commercial games that they sell specifically for the GP2X. Your
ability to play standard media file types or 3rd party games will not
be disabled with a firmware update (like what Sony keeps doing to PSP
customers). The GP2X can also be connected to a TV or Monitor(s),
so it can even replace a car or portable DVD player. This
requires only a cable available from the same retailer - no hacking or
opening the case.
Given the ability to play standard file formats, freedom from
intentional incompatibilities, Video output functionality, and ability
to play thousands of games (via emulation of many game consoles) it is
a better deal (IMHO) than the more popular handheld gaming units such
as the PSP and Nitendo DS.
Update Apr 2012:
Sadly, Neither the GP2X, or the GP2X Wiz
(which was it's successor) are sold any more. I would reccommend
an Android based media player or tablet.
Discuss this Review in the Linuxslate.com Forumshttp://vugo.com/vugo.php
(Now dead - Points to Hasbrow Error Page)
page about DRM
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