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ViewSonic VMP30 Digital Media Player - ViewSonic VMP30 Digital Media Player

Ardjuna Seghers

By Ardjuna Seghers



Our Score:


ViewSonic's VMP30 claims compatibility with an admirable number of formats. It might only support JPEG, BMP and PNG for photos and music is limited to MP3, AAC, AC3, Real Audio and WMA (unfortunately there's no FLAC, OGG, Dolby or DTS compatibility here), but at first glance video support makes up for this. ViewSonic's little unit can supposedly handle MPEG 1/2/4, RealVideo and H.264 at up to Full HD resolution, meaning it will play TS, VOB, AVI, Xvid/DivX, DAT, RM/RMVB, MOV and MKV video files at up to 1,080p with SRT or SSA subtitles.

Indeed, a selection of standard definition MOV and MKV files played just fine, as did RMVB. It was when we started getting into HD territory that things began looking grim; a 1080p MOV video displayed severe artefacts before completely crashing the VMP30. At this stage it's worth mentioning the small physical on/off switch at the base of the unit, which we were forced to use a lot during testing as the media player would crash on a regular basis and even the remote's power button wouldn't affect it.

Reckoning a 1080p MOV might be pushing things, we consequently tried a 720p MOV, which crashed after running with artefacts and stuttering. A 1080p MKV refused to play altogether and the VMP30 has an annoying habit of just playing the next file it can handle instead of telling you there's a problem. A 720p MKV played a few seconds before crashing, as did a 720p MP4. Basically every HD file we tried (including DivX and AVI) displayed severe artefacts, stuttered, skipped, froze or just crashed the whole unit.

Thinking this might be a problem with early firmware, we contacted ViewSonic, who informed us that no updates are planned. However, we were told that the maximum bit-rate the VMP30 could handle for H.264 and MPEG-4 files was 20Mb/s. Frankly this is incredibly low and makes the player unsuitable for most common HD video files. It did explain our failed tests though, as crashes generally occurred at points where the variable bit-rate went above this figure.

With its impressive overall build quality, decent looks and small footprint plus claimed support for so many video formats, we really wanted to like ViewSonic's first media player - especially since with an MSRP of £60 (and street prices likely lower) it would have represented excellent value for money. Unfortunately, the niggles with the remote and interface, combined with the VMP30's complete inability to play back the HD formats it claims to support in most real-world scenarios, make it one to avoid.

In effect it's somewhat similar to the WD TV Mini, which costs the same but simply doesn't claim to play the HD files the VMP30 does. Additionally the Mini supports more audio and image formats than the ViewSonic and has a more polished interface, but on the other hand the VMP30 supports more standard definition video formats and offers a digital video output, so choosing between the two depends on your priorities.

Ultimately, though, we wouldn't go for either. Unless ViewSonic manages to fix the VMP30's issues, the original Western Digital WD TV or better-featured Asus O!Play HDP-R1 are still the way to go if you're looking for a media player.


Despite the ViewSonic VMP30's positive first impression, there's little to like here as, contrary to its claims, the unit can't realistically handle high definition video files.

Overall Score


Scores In Detail

  • Value 5
  • Features 6
  • Design 7


October 1, 2009, 4:31 am

The first page of the review read like a dream :(. I couldn't believe the sudden sense of disappointment on Page3. And the fact the unit has "1080p" boasted on the top just makes it worse. It lied to us! How could it do that?! *sob*


October 1, 2009, 4:37 pm

hmm that dosent sound right 20mbps..dont most h.264 use around 2mbps? with many blurays themselves coming in under 20?


October 2, 2009, 11:28 pm

@betelgeus: Most of the H.264 encoded Bluray discs that I watch seem to have an average bitrate around 19 Mbps and I frequently see them exceed 30 Mbps for rapidly changing scenes. Maximum bitrates are described here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/B....

However, I'm not sure many people have the disk space to rip all their Bluray discs at full bitrate so they would probably transcode them to something a lot lower and which the VMP30 could handle easily. Those that can afford the disk space are probably not in the market for a £60 media renderer.

Steve Patton

March 4, 2010, 12:54 pm

This is a terrible product It will play something one minute and then refuse the next Totally crashes which means you have to get up and reset. The remote will not work not worth the money Viewsonic should be ashamed!!!!!! Mine is getting returned today would rather play my movies on pc DO NOT BUY !!!!!!!!!


April 13, 2010, 4:11 pm

As already said, it's a lemon, bought mine for under thirty pounds and the remote didn't work, the replacement started playing some hd files and would then stop and move onto the next and would then do the same after a minute or two, files encoded at 720p 5mbps, nowhere near the suggested limit. Better to cough up the dosh and buy a good quality product.

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