The menu system is reasonably well integrated with the controls, in a typical ‘cross’ arrangement. The main functions, like video, audio and photos, are ranged across the top, with options for each dropping from them, in columns – XMB style. The 8GB of internal memory is structured as a drive, with folders labelled Book, Movie, Music and Photo.
These folders show up under each of the main headings, which it makes it confusing when you first start to use the VPD400. It would be more intuitive to have the software select the appropriate media files for each category of media, so you only get offered videos under video and music tracks under audio.
As well as the array of buttons, there’s a mini-USB socket on the left for connecting to a PC and a MicroSD socket to expand the storage. Headphone and HDTV sockets are also there; the maximum resolution the player can handle is 720p, displayed on its 800 x 480 pixel screen or via the output socket.
There are mini stereo speakers set into left and right edges and a 5V power inlet for the supplied charger. This comes with a range of different mains plugs, so is good for most European countries.
The speaker grills are minute and the sound they provide is governed by their size. As you’d expect, there’s next to no bass output and little mid-range, either. They’re adequate for speech, so if you’re playing back a quiz show or soap they give enough to hear what’s going on, but for movie soundtracks or music playback, you either need to take an audio output to external speakers, or use headphones.
The supplied headphones look like pretty standard fare for those bundled with a player, but sound a bit better than expected. The sound is crisp and well advanced on the sound stage and while there isn’t a ‘right there with the band’ feel to them, there’s a good frequency range and enough volume to drown out extraneous noises from the real world.
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