Say Portable Media Player (PMP) and most people think Apple, Creative, Archos or iRiver, but there are many other players intent on grabbing a piece of the market. One of these is Viewsonic, better known for monitors and projectors, and which has just launched two models, the VPD400 and VPD500. The VPD400 is the smaller and cheaper, coming in at a breath under £90.
The VPD400 is a pocket-size player, measuring 113mm x 75mm x 14mm thick and weighing a svelte 140g. Ours had a black plastic case, but the Viewsonic site shows white and the ubiquitous pink as alternatives. The screen is a 110mm active-matrix LCD and the unit has a built-in 1,800mAh Li-ion battery.
In this case, by built-in we also mean not customer-replaceable, which could be a mistake. Given that Li-ion packs have typical service lives of three to four years, having a player where you can’t get at the battery to update it could pull the player to a premature death.
Viewsonic claims up to 12 hours audio or 6 hours video off a single charge and we wouldn’t dispute that under normal use. The machine has an unusually geeky battery life display, which shows a real-time graph of voltage and current usage. Pretty much useless, but cool nonetheless.
This is not an all-singing PMP with touch-screen control. Instead, it relies on two trios of buttons set into its top edge. The left-hand set offers left and right navigation, together with a single-button play, pause and stop, while the right-hand set offers up and down, and Enter. There is also a sliding power switch on the bottom edge and a volume toggle on the right.