January 20, 2011 Leave a comment
Findaway World, the privately-held company based in Cleveland that makes and distributes the surprisingly popular Playaway preloaded audio book devices, is getting ready to launch Playaway View, which they hope will do for portable video viewing what the original Playaway did for digital audio books: make it dance-a-jig easy to use just about anywhere.
At ALA Midwinter in San Diego last weekend, Mike Belsito from Findaway told me that they were focusing on video content for children first. If the first wave of Views receive high use and user acceptance, Findaway may expand into View devices with content for adults. Each View device probably will cost libraries about $100.
The sustained success of Playaway audio books has surprised me. Back in 2003 or 2004, when I heard that Playaway was planning to launch its service, with an initial emphasis on direct-to-end-user sales, I thought the service might have some success as a “pony express” service that gets us to transition quickly from current technologies (CDs and lingering cassette sales of audio books) to the foreseeable future where most listeners of downloadable digital audio books would listen to them on “scrubbable” portable audio playback devices, such as MP3 players, smart phones, portable media players, etc.
Since then, Playaway has grown by leaps and bounds, and their ready to branch out into video. The View weighs approx. 5.4 ounces and contains several hours of video. There is a built-in speaker, plus a headphone jack. It contains a rechargeable lithium ion battery, which may provide up to 8 hours of continuous playback. According to the website FAQ, it should take approximately 4 hours to fully recharge the battery. The View has just seven buttons:
- Power On/Off
- Volume Up
- Volume Down
- HomeAlso, you can lock/unlock the device by pressing the Home and Volume Down buttons simultaneously. There are three brightness settings to accommodate different ambient lighting situations.
While Playaway preloaded audio books seem to appeal to the broad “middle class” of library users who are neither techno geeks nor ignore-digital luddites, the Playaway View may have a slightly more difficult time finding its core audience, because YouTube and YouTube wannabes already have shown that broad middle class of users how easy it is to access short videos. The portability and play-anywhere aspects of the View, however, may appeal to users of all ages who want to make every room a room with a View.