ViewSonic VPD400 MP3 player

This budget portable media player supports a wide range of file formats

The ViewSonic VPD400 is a portable media player with a 4.3in LCD screen and 8GB of internal memory. The VPD400 is an easy way to view movies and listen to music while travelling, although it doesn't have the build quality or interface design of competitors' more polished products.

The ViewSonic VPD400's 4.3in LCD dominates its front face — apart from a small ViewSonic logo there's nothing else to look at. Buttons and ports are arranged around the edges — the left side has a power jack, USB port, mono speaker and Micro SD card slot for adding SDHC memory. The VPD400 feels reasonably sturdy though not as refined as products from Apple and Creative.

Navigating the on-screen menu is a little difficult thanks to a confusing button layout. With a four-way menu system (up, down, left and right) we expected a directional controller but were surprised to find individual buttons arranged in a line. The menu is reasonably easy to operate once you have gotten hang of the layout, but you'll usually need two hands to operate it and you may have trouble finding the correct button when the player is inside your pocket. The ViewSonic VPD400 lacks the integrated Wi-Fi and touch screen of more expensive players, but the inclusion of a 720p-capable HDMI output makes it useful for displaying video or photos on a larger screen at a pinch.

A wide range of audio file types are supported by the ViewSonic VPD400. MP3, WMA and WAV file support is par for the course, but support for the FLAC, APE and OGG formats was a pleasant surprise. No AAC support means you'll need to convert your iTunes music if you want to listen to it on the VPD400.

Video support is equally diverse. AVI, FLV, MOV and MPG files all played without any glitches — though 1080p files are not supported. More niche Real Media file formats are also supported according to ViewSonic. Photo playback was good — there was only a small amount of scaling jaggedness visible when we viewed 14.6-megapixel JPG files.

The ViewSonic VPD400's screen is good but not great. The 800x480 screen resolution is perfect for watching DVD-quality movie files, although colours are a little garish for our liking and low contrast steals detail in dark scenes. For casual movie-watching on the train or bus it will be acceptable.

If you're not interested in Web access, interactive applications or a touch screen, the ViewSonic VPD400 will do a good job as your portable media player. It's reasonably priced and includes core media player functionality with a few nifty extras like HDMI output and expandable memory.

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