Tiny satellite TV and radio receiver for rent

The U:Mo can't be bought - it can only be rented by the month in Japan.

Over the years, we've seen more than our fair share of portable media players and marvelled at the new features we never thought we'd need (or want) but iRiver Japan 's latest is definitely the first we've encountered that simply can't be purchased - it's rental only.

The Korean firm's Japanese arm has struck a deal with local satellite TV and radio broadcaster Usen to provide a media player and digital receiver known as U:MO to its subscribers. The player itself can be rented for ¥2,200 (£9) a month, while another ¥980 (£4) grants access to Usen's network.

No offloading

Apart from that proportionately huge-looking aerial for picking up the satellite broadcasts, the U:MO appears to be nothing special. It has just 1GB of memory for recording radio or TV shows, although there's a miniSD card too. Recordings cannot be transferred to other devices, so subscribers are stuck with squinting at the 2.4-inch screen.

Given that the U:MO weighs just 74g, and can pick up 40 satellite radio channels and eight TV stations, we should be impressed, but that priapic aerial and the odd pricing structure mean the jury's still out. As for the tiny 1GB, it's not too bad considering this is essentially a portable media centre, rather than a bona fide PMP.

Incidentally, we suspect Usen will be pitching this one at subscribers who are somewhat less than tech savvy - one scenario presented in the marketing blurb is that of a father forced to reluctantly pull family duty on a weekend, but who can craftily whip out his U:MO and watch the big horse race instead. Classy.

J Mark Lytle was an International Editor for TechRadar, based out of Tokyo, who now works as a Script Editor, Consultant at NHK, the Japan Broadcasting Corporation. Writer, multi-platform journalist, all-round editorial and PR consultant with many years' experience as a professional writer, their bylines include CNN, Snap Media and IDG.