Genuine innovation is reasonably rare these days, isn't it? For every shining example of tefal head wizardry, there are a hundred knock off iPod accessories that are best suited to lining the inside of your wheelie bin.
It's fortunate, then, that every so often an item arrives to shake us from our tech torpor, and the Sandisk V-Mate is just such a device.
The V-mate is a card reader with video input and output, and it records and plays the MP4 codec, widely used by mobile devices.
What this means is that you can record to a memory card directly from any video source, such as set top boxes or DVD players, and then whack the card straight into your mobile device for instant portable entertainment. For PSP users, it's a major boon - there's no need to even switch your PC on, let alone get bogged down in lengthy re-encodes.
There are a couple of first iteration niggles, though, and they could prevent the V-Mate from taking permanent home beneath your television.
The first problem is that while you're using the device, video output is limited to a small window within the interface, meaning you wouldn't want keep the device between your Freeview box and TV unless your box has at least two outputs and your TV has at least two inputs - even then, running it alongside a VCR may cause problems.
Compounding this is the fact that, unlike a conventional video recorder, when the device is switched off there's no passthrough signal, meaning you get no picture at all. If you're prepared to plug and unplug it every time you want to record or set a timer, though, this won't be an issue.
We're pretty impressed with the V-Mate, and despite a flaw or two, it remains eminently useful for mobile video fans. If Sandisk sorts the product's first-generation problems, and perhaps adds a USB port so you can save directly to a mass storage device (or even your iPod), and you'll have an extremely desirable bit of kit.