Getting back to the W800F itself, it has quite a bit of connectivity, though none of it digital. At the back starting from the top (when it’s placed in its upright position) we have the power jack and 3.5mm audio in and out jacks. Next are video connections consisting of VGA-out for hooking up to a monitor, and a nine-pin mini-DIN to input VGA from your video card using the supplied cable. Below these are the antenna jacks for an FM and DVB-T/Analog TV.
At the front we have an IR sensor, nine-pin mini-DIN-out for use with the ‘component’/S-Video cable, and composite video and audio jacks. The last and most interesting addition to this list is a USB port. Though it doesn’t support external hard drives, the W800F will take a memory stick to view photos, watch films or listen to music. Unfortunately, though, format support is limited to the bare minimum, with JPEG for pictures, MPEG-2 and 4 video support, and music restricted to MP3, WAV and WMA.
It’s worth mentioning that the VideoMate W800F supports most common monitor resolutions and aspect ratios at 60 or 75Hz, all the way from 800 x 600 (4:3) to 1,920 x 1,200 (16:10). ‘OptiRatio’ additionally offers stretch-to-fit and SmartZoom modes, meaning you’ll be able to get the kind of picture you want.
There’s also a built-in mono speaker, which doesn’t do too badly for a tiny mono effort and can be used to watch daytime TV at a pinch – though anyone with a pair of headphones or external speakers will definitely want to use those instead. It’s also hardly surprising, but worth keeping in mind, that the W800F suffers from mobile phone interference.
Compro even provides a few pre-installed games. These are as basic as it gets, but though Hit-Rat (don’t ask) is terrible the Tetris and Brick-pusher clones are mildly entertaining.
With the main features out of the way, how does it actually perform? Well, the short answer is disappointingly. Though fairly logically laid out, menus can be a pain to navigate due to unintuitive or even obscure button assignments.
Extensive as it is, the manual isn’t particularly helpful either. For example, under the section called ‘Play Games’, all it says is “VideoMate W800F built-in 3 games (…) you can follow the direction and play it anytime”. Erm, what direction, exactly? Only if you’re lucky enough to have read the section of ‘Digital TV and USB Playback’ will you realize that, as with media playback, games only work when in Digital TV (DTV) mode.
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