Format support is abundant, as the VMP74 utilizes the same Advanced Sigma Designs 8655 processor that can be found in both the Eminent EM7075-DTS and Western Digital WDTV Live HD. For video you get AVC-HD, H.264, MPEG1/2/4, VC-1, WMV9, DivX and Xvid in most containers, including AVI, ASF, ISO, M2TS, MP4, MPG, MKV, MOV, TS, TP, VOB, WMV, IFO and DAT with SRT, SMI, SSA, AAS, IDX, SUB and TXT subtitles (meaning it supports more subs than any other player we've looked at).
The 8655's only significant video limitation is its lack of RMVB and FLV support, so if those are something you want you'll have to opt for the Asus O!Play Air HDP-R3 or the award-winning A.C. Ryan Playon!HD Mini. Audio-wise the VMP74 will let you play MP2/3, OGG, WMA (Pro), WAV, AAC and FLAC, and it supports Dolby Digital or DTS pass-through. Finally for photos and images it will show JPEG, BMP, TIFF, GIF and PNG.
The best news is that, unlike ViewSonic's ill-fated VMP30, its VMP74 actually does what it says on the tin. It played back all our video test files without issue – the only minor exception being two slight audio stutters in a 1080p .MOV trailer. Not a completely flawless performance then, but near enough as to make no difference for most users.
To sum up, this media player has more features overall than any other barring A.C. Ryan's Playon!HD Mini, and it's the only one we've come across that allows you to comfortably browse the internet. Unfortunately, at £140 it also demands a significant premium over most other media players, including the £90 Playon!HD Mini. To be honest, at this price we would seriously consider getting a tiny Atom-based PC like the Acer Aspire Revo instead, versions of which are available for as little as £160. If you do want a dedicated device or your budget won't stretch that far, the Playon!HD Mini is still our player of choice.
Sleek and stylish both inside and out, the compact ViewSonic VMP74 Full HD Network Media Player is versatile in its features, format support and connectivity, and generally performs well. Unfortunately it just misses out on a recommendation by dint of its high price.