Portable video players are gaining interest in the market today, for all you slick business travelers addicted to The Apprentice. Thus today we are looking at a choice for a portable video player by Viewsonic, called the VPD500.

It’s a solid black rectangular slab, with the top face bearing just the screen, edge to edge, bare and neatly cornered. All the buttons and controls are relegated to the side faces, mainly the top and 2 sides. The screen is not a touch responsive one, thus we have arrow navigational and ‘Enter’ buttons on the top face, while the USB in, DC in, Micro SD card(up to 16 GB), headphone out and HDTV out are on the sides. A lone power on slider switch is on the bottom side.

The screen is a 5-inch screen with 800 x 400 resolution. It's easily one of the bigger screens on the market, with 160K colors. The player is HD ready, in that it can play upto 720p videos, in these formats: AVI/ RM/ RMVB/ FLV/ MOV. Notice no MKV support. That’s a downer. For audio we have support for MP3,WMA, FLAC and APE formats. The battery included is a Li-ion model.

Performance and Conclusion
The inbuilt menu is very similar to Sony’s Cross media Bar, with the same functionality and dual direction scroll ability. The response is smooth and using the buttons on top is glitch free.
The video output was sharp and crisp detail-wise. It was very impressive in terms of the absence of dirty edge distortion or blurry edges in motion.

The motion was stutter free almost, except in a full bitrate VOB file, which took a little while to start and sync up. The colors again were nicely saturated, we could not gauge any blotchiness or color banding, again a very impressive feat. The decoding done inside seems to be of a healthy caliber, as demonstrated by the smooth playback, even in 720p MOV files.

Battery wise we have about 3 hours 26 minutes of HD playback and 4 hours 18 minutes of normal video. This is a decent reading, as the device is quite streamlined in its form and it would be hard to fit in a larger battery.

Viewsonic VPD500 MRP is Rs. 8,800 for 8GB version, which is a reasonable price. Of course there will be naysayers saying “why shouldn’t I get a PSP, it also plays games”. This product is different and caters to a different segment. Basically the screen is huge and video playback is really smooth, it’s almost stutter free. The main gripe is of course, no MKV support, and for that I will minus points. But the ‘XMBesque’ interface, good build and smooth operation make this a good choice for anyone who loves his/her movies and shows, and needs a device to watch it on the daily commute.

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