Cranking Out the Tunes

The other day I was carting the family heirlooms down to the pawnshop to scrape up some cash for a new iPod, and I thought to myself, why doesn’t someone make a digital music player that you can crank up like an old Victrola? Well, lo and behold, it turns out that someone has.

The Eco Media Player is the brainchild of British inventor Trevor Baylis. Baylis is best known for the Freeplay, a crank-powered radio that he designed as a means of giving people in parts of Africa off the power grid access to radio broadcasts about the dangers of AIDs (for his ingenuity and charitable efforts, he was awarded the Order of the British Empire, an honor he shares with Joan Collins, Rudy Giuliani, and the Bee Gees).

His latest venture is less humanitarian, but equally green. The Eco Media player is a fully featured digital media player that provides 40 minutes of play time for each minute of winding (although if you’re feeling lazy, you can also charge it more conventionally through the USB port of your computer.)

The Eco Media comes with a relatively small 2 GB of built-in storage, but has a slot for an SD card so that you can expand your capacity. You can entertain yourself with music (in MP3, WMA and other popular formats), video (MP4), still pictures, and an integrated FM radio tuner. The Eco Media also has some features you won’t find on your average Nano, like a voice recorder, built-in speaker, and, because sometimes it’s fun to listen to music in the dark, a flashlight (or as the Brits like to say, a torch). If you’re in the dark because of a power failure, the wind-up mechanism can also be used to charge your mobile phone. You may never need an electrical outlet again.

To be fair, this player is a little chunkier than some of the competition. However, its footprint is a whole lot smaller.

The Eco Media Player is expected to be on the market at the end of the month, although at present it doesn’t seem to be available through any retailers in North America. The price in the UK is expected to be around £170 ($240).


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