As technology continues to advance at a ridiculous rate, manufacturers of all things digital are implementing their urge to converge like never before: cameras that play music, MP3 players that record memos - the list goes on and on.
That's why we were relatively unruffled when Vivitar announced that their forthcoming digital do-it-all was going to be seriously multifunctional. 'Isn't everything?' we said. Well, yes, to a degree. But nothing, repeat nothing, could prepare us for the staggering versatility of the Portable Entertainment Centre.
Why? Well believe it or not, this stylish little, er...well to be perfectly honest we don't even know what to call this incredible gizmo, as it does so many things, so well, it defies classification.
What we do know is that Vivitar have taken convergence electronics to a whole new level, as the Portable Entertainment Centre is the world's first 6-in-1 multimedia recorder/player. Which, in simple terms, means that this chic little handheld device is a (deep breath) video camera, digital stills camera, voice recorder, digital photo frame, MP3 player AND TV/video recorder. That's right - do not adjust your computer - we did also say "video recorder"!
If you're wondering how this miracle of modern technology is possible, allow us to explain: the Portable Entertainment Centre boasts massive storage capacity with 20 gigabytes of onboard memory plus SD card compatibility. This means it can capture 15 hours of VGA movies, 24,000 high quality still images and more than 5000 MP3 music files. It would take us ages and pages to fully list the Portable Entertainment Centre's jaw-dropping features, so here's the condensed lowdown:
Using the titchy detachable camera/camcorder module, the Portable Entertainment Centre captures high-quality MPEG4 video in both VGA and XVGA formats. But get this: the Portable Entertainment Centre can also record video from virtually any source, including TV, VCR and DVD. Thanks to its huge storage capacity the Portable Entertainment Centre can easily store movies, videos or TV programs, and playback is a pleasure as this slick box of tricks boasts a generous 3.6" LCD screen, making it in essence a 20gb video jukebox.
Moving away from moving images, the Portable Entertainment Centre also functions as a 3.1-megapixel digital camera with a vast arsenal of features. And as if that were not enough to consign all other digital devices to the bin marked 'Is that all you've got?' the Portable Entertainment Centre is a voice recorder and capacious MP3 player - it's even got a built-in speaker!
The Portable Entertainment Centre can be used as a digital photo frame for viewing slide shows and it also plays video content downloaded from a PC or Mac.
Brilliantly versatile, the Portable Entertainment Centre offers USB connectivity to your PC or Mac, and the nifty mains cradle allows you to connect to a range of other peripherals, including TV, notebook or printer. A long-lasting lithium battery ensures that the Portable Entertainment Centre is the ultimate travelling companion, and the bundled software makes operating it easier than putting on a hat.
This really is the Sammy Davis Jnr. of digital gizmos: small, cool and quite staggeringly versatile. Now if only it could dance...