The motherboard market has reached a threshold for market maturity, and because of this, profit margins on motherboards and video cards are razor thin. This is even evident in the number of motherboard and video card manufacturers that have remained, for the most part, successful. The big three motherboard manufacturers, MSI, Gigabyte, and Asus, are still feeling the heat related to profit margins, and therefore are continuously on a quest to diversify their product portfolio. This is reflective of what we have seen going on in the Taiwan technology stock market. This is also transparent of what we heard at Computex and in our first CEO Forum.

One of the most un-treaded areas for motherboard makers is consumer electronics, as this encompasses a wide spectrum of products from everything from LCDs to MP3 players. In our first PM Forum, 62% of product managers reported that they are currently pursuing consumer electronics. Now, this figure includes companies that have not announced their consumer electronic product lines, but still are pursing such products internally. This is in contrast to small form factor (SFF) PCs, which all companies reported to be pursuing.

While SFF is a phenomenon market and can be a cash cow for many, it will not remain so for a long time, since it is also bound to mature. As this market matures, we should expect to see motherboard companies turning to other outlets to make a name for themselves. After all, the name Shuttle, which was previously unknown to many, is now all but synonymous with small form factor.

We saw many motherboard manufacturers turning to very interesting product lines, some of which took us completely by surprise and others were very expected. Asus, for one at Computex, introduced their cellular phones, which are expected to sell overseas in areas such as Europe and Asia. We have been informed that there are no such plans to introduce them into North America, however. Meanwhile, there are other innovative products that take what already is and improves on it. MSI is a great example of this with their Mega Stick 1. MSI has taken a USB flash drive and turned it into a fully functional, on-the-go solution: FM tuner, FM recorder, voice recorder, MP3 player, and of course, a storage device. This may not seem like much at first, but we found out otherwise once we put it through the paces…

Mega Stick 1 – Supercharged USB flash drive
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  • marqiuz - Thursday, November 13, 2003 - link

    Groan,

    for this once, I find an article on Anandtech speaking gibberish.

    First time you see such a gadget in the market?!??

    It's all the rage in the Asian Market, wake up. How long has ANYONE in Anandtech gone to Japan, Korea or Taiwan, or on the web this side of the world for that matter?!??

    Several brands to look at:

    iriver
    safa (Best of the stock - with inbuilt speaker)
    samsung
    hyundai
    Yepp
    Phillips (this one is new)
    JNC

    And many more, many being more cool looking than that MSI product there. As I said, this is a trendy item in Asia; going for as low as 600HK and as costly as 2000HK (for ref. 7.8hk = 1 US).

    Goto this website to have a browse.

    http://buycomp.hkgolden.com/default.asp

    select MP3 and presto!

    America is truly too far behind on this.
    Reply
  • Andrew Ku - Thursday, November 13, 2003 - link

    The JoS is a very interesting product, and the actual LCD interface does seem a bit "cleaner." The resolution for the LCD seems to be higher, but the size of the actual size of the LCD module looks to be the same size (according to their PDF actual size scale). We didn't find any information referencing its ability to playback recordings, so we will have to wait till we get one on hand to tinker around with.

    Btw, it is actually 88x25x16 (MP-100). To top it off, it is basically double in price (MP-100 - 256MB). The fact that it is all but scarce domestically doesn't help its case... But we will get back to this stuff some other time.
    Reply
  • smm2k - Thursday, November 13, 2003 - link

    http://www.jensofsweden.com/index.asp?page=product...

    or

    http://www.iriveramerica.com/products/iFP-390T.asp

    which do you think i should get for xmas?
    Reply
  • Grimner - Thursday, November 13, 2003 - link

    Xtian, you beat me to it :)

    Have been using a JoS 256 since spring. The Mega Stick lock a lot like it - sharing the layout down to the buttons. Nice touch with the replacable battery, tough.

    Could the Americans, for once, be waaaaay behind Europe? LOL
    Reply
  • Xtian - Thursday, November 13, 2003 - link

    andrew Ku.
    "Those MP3 players that have a large capacity, larger display, more features, etc... don't come as small as the Mega Stick 1, at least not yet."

    Well, Jens if Sweden has it, and it's been out
    for some time allready. It can playback your
    voice or radio recordings, has 256Mb memory,
    charge from USB and, it's 80x25x16mm compared
    to MSI's 95x30x18mm.

    link: www.jensofsweden.com

    What I like to see now is USB2.0 interface
    combined with faster flash memory to get a
    better transfer rate.

    /Xtian
    Reply
  • Andrew Ku - Thursday, November 13, 2003 - link

    Hello all,

    I would remind you guys that this is smaller than the Nomad Muvo, and it has an FM tuner (and the ability to FM record), which most others lack. Also, keep in mind that this is MSI's first MP3 player and is much smaller than almost everything on the market. The ability to charge via USB is something that AnandTech would love to see implemented in the next generation of Mega Stick, and we already cited that in the article. Those MP3 players that have a large capacity, larger display, more features, etc... don't come as small as the Mega Stick 1, at least not yet.

    Btw, I have seen the Mega Stick 1 at 100 flat.
    Reply
  • Xtian - Thursday, November 13, 2003 - link

    This was the first time Anandtech made me confused about what year it is.
    I bought my northstar Nov 2002, and since then
    numerous companies had offered all these
    features, more memory, USB-charging of batteries,
    playback of recorded material, larger displays,
    longer battery life, smaller size, better design.
    Are you sure this review is not 1+ year old?
    /Xtian
    Reply
  • yanon - Thursday, November 13, 2003 - link

    Actually, there are several other companies already making similar products. I am thinking about buying one of these usb pen drive/mp3 player/voice recorders for Christmas. Andrew Ku didn't do a real good job on testing the device since he didn't even bother to come up with a qualitative testing method for sound quality and voice recording quality. I am wondering how good is voice recording funcitons because I will be using it to record class lectures. Another thing that is kind of disappointing about the Mega Stick is that it can't playback the file it records. Man, whoever designed the mega stick must be on crack since I just never heard of any audio recorder that can't play back the files it recorded.
    BTW guys, please give me some suggestions on which mp3 player/voice recorder to get. I prefer one that is not too expensive less $125 and has decent recording quality for recording 3 hours worth of lecture.
    Reply
  • xionn - Thursday, November 13, 2003 - link

    You guys need to get with it.
    Ever heard of the company ibead or 'Jens of Sweeden'? They do everything that this drive does and much more. Plus it does it much quicker.

    Get with it guys, www.cnet.com has better info.
    Reply
  • smm2k - Wednesday, November 12, 2003 - link

    hmm i wonder if the iriver flash player is better or worse?
    www.iriver.com
    Reply

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