Getting media onto the VPD400 is fairly straightforward, via the supplied USB cable, though we did have one XP-based machine which failed to recognise the device. We tried it with another XP PC and one running Vista 64 and both recognised the player without problem, suggesting the fault wasn’t the player’s.
Of the WMA tracks we copied from files on our server, which play fine through Windows Media Player, some produced good copies while other ones played at around half speed, with a lot of echo. Using the player as an external drive to a PC and playing the tracks back through Media Player restored correct playback, so this does look like a problem with WMA decoding in the VPD400.
As well as WMA, the player is compatible with MP3, WAV, FLAC, APE and OGG. It’s good to see more players including support for lossless compression. With storage capacities ever increasing, more people are choosing high quality formats to store their music.
Video playback is good. The VPD400 can read AVI, FLV, MP4, MOV and H.264 files, among others, and the media we tried played without problem. The screen is big enough to watch a full feature movie without strain and colour is natural. There’s plenty of detail and no trace of hesitation, even in fast, action sequences.
The VPD400 can display photos and again offers a good range of supported formats, including JPEG, BMP, PNG and GIF, and can also act as a small eBook reader. You can set bookmarks, to continue reading from the point you left off, but all books have to be straight TXT files – the player doesn’t handle anything more sophisticated.
It often seems odd to have a remote control on a pocket-sized player, but in the case of the VPD400, it’s easier to use this than the buttons on its case. The small remote has basic navigation, in a more convenient four-way cross, as well as power, start-stop and volume controls.
The VPD400 has the basic makings of a PMP, but there are some drawbacks. The controls are hardly intuitive and would be a lot easier with a four-way button pad. More of a problem, though, is the erratic WMA playback. While this could be a fault in this particular review sample, if it’s more widespread, Viewsonic needs to look at the firmware in the machine. For Version 2, the company should also consider a removable battery.
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