Viewsonic launches personal media players

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The big screen, high resolution View Show personal media player from Viewsonic

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Viewsonic is about to break into the portable media player market with the release (in Taiwan) of two new players, the 8GB View Show VPD400 and the 16GB View Show VPD500. Sporting an impressive 800 by 480 screen resolution and supporting most media formats, the players will nudge their way in at the very top end of their class, but you may not necessarily have to pay class winning prices.

The VPD500 has a bright 5in LCD screen which will display video and photos at a 800 by 480 pixel resolution and comes with 16GB of internal storage. The slightly smaller 4.3in screen of the VPD400 doesn't lose out in the resolution stakes but does when it comes to storage, offering only 8GB.

Both models include a miniSD card slot allowing expansion possibilities of up to 32GB. They also cater for 720p HD output to TV and have a claimed battery life of four hours video and 15 hours music. Multiple audio and video formats are supported* although the audiophile favorite, OGG Vorbis, is sadly lacking.

The players only weigh 196g and are available in black, white or shocking pink. At a suggested retail price of NT$ 5990 (US$182) for the VPD500 and NT$4990 (US$151) it's looking like they might give some of the competition a bit of a run.

Comparitively speaking

In my humble opinion the Archos 7 currently reigns supreme when it comes to portable media players. Like the View Show models it also has a 800 x 480 screen but is offered in a more comfortable 7 inch format. There's a whopping 320GB of storage thanks to its onboard hard disk and as well as most other audio and video formats, OGG gets the support it deserves. There's better battery life on offer and it's Wifi enabled. Strictly speaking though it's more of a mini personal computer than a personal media player and as far as pricing goes, it's not even in the same State let alone ball park as the PMPs from Viewsonic.

Despite the fact that it's more expensive than the competition, has a screen size of just 3.5in at 480 by 320 pixels and is not as supportive on the media front, Apple's iPod touch is considered (by some) to be the most desirable option currently available.

The S9 from Cowon is much closer in terms of specs and has that iPod touch desirability about it but at 3.3in at 480 x 272, it loses out on in the screen size department. But it's more expensive than the View Show.

Slightly closer in price to the View Show is the Samsung P3 but it doesn't have a comparable display (only 480 by 272 at 3in). It does offer better media support though and benefits from a feature rich Samsung sleek design.

And the winner is...

We haven't been fortunate enough to see the product in action as yet but on the face of it at least, the View Show would appear to be a class winning product having a bigger screen than its closest rivals, good media support and is priced very competitively. At the time of writing there's no information on European or US availability but it's on sale in the Asia-Pacific region later this month. Keep an eye on Viewsonic's website for more news.

* File format support - AVI, Real Media, FLV, MOV, DAT (DVD), MPEG 1/2/4, VOB, DivX and H.264 files video. MP3, WMA, WAV, APE and FLAC audio files, JPEG, BMP, GIF and PNG images.

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