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ViewSonic VMP74 review

Kat Orphanides
29 Dec 2010
ViewSonic VMP74
Our Rating 
Price when reviewed 
111
inc VAT

Although we liked having a Flash-enabled web browser built into our media streamer, the VMP74 feels sluggish and underpowered in general.

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Specifications

ViewSonic's VMP74 isn't exactly the peak of design as far as media streamers go, but it has some unusual features, including a dual-purpose USB/eSATA port for external storage. There's also a second USB port, so you can connect external storage drives, a keyboard or even a mouse.

ViewSonic VMP74

The VMP74 also has the obligatory HDMI port, optical S/PDIF out and 10/100 Ethernet port, along with a 3.5mm AV output, which can be split into composite video and stereo phono using a supplied cable.

The TV-style remote control is cleanly laid out, so its large number of buttons doesn't become too confusing. An alphanumeric keypad lets you enter text and a set of arrow keys is used to navigate the menu system and even move a mouse pointer around. However, moving the pointer using arrow keys proved to be sluggish, inaccurate and intensely irritating.

The main interface has a basic function ribbon across the top of the screen. As you highlight each of its categories, more options open up below it. It's all fairly self-explanatory, with categories including Network Shared Folders, UPnP, USB, web favourites and an RSS reader. Everything works, but it all feels rather slow.

Unlike most media streamers, the VMP74 has a fully functional web browser with Flash support. This means that can view almost any online video content, just as you would on a PC. Even the YouTube menu option is actually just a shortcut to the standard YouTube website. The advantages are obvious - you can visit, use and bookmark your own favourite streaming media websites without being limited by a pre-set list. However, we had to connect a mouse and keyboard before we could use the browser effectively. The iPlayer option in the VMP74's menu system says "coming soon" when you select it, but you can already browse to the BBC's iPlayer website and watch online.

The streamer can't play Blu-ray rips properly but has otherwise excellent video format support. It had no problem navigating menus and playing video from DVD ISO files. Video files take a while to load but play smoothly. We particularly liked the thumbnail sized video previews that appear – with full sound -after you highlight a file for a few seconds.

Audio format support is comprehensive, but track skipping, like many of the streamer's functions, is sluggish and the VMP74 doesn't display album artwork. Picture browsing was also rather slow and the screen goes black for a few seconds when you skip between slides. The automatic slideshow and thumbnail previews both worked well, though, and there's a shortcut to Flickr, where you can login, search or browse to your heart's content.

The VMP74 has some great features but it's a bit more expensive than most comparable streamers and it feels slow and underpowered. It's great to have a fully functional web browser, but the remote control is unsuitable for navigating it. We prefer the Western Digital WD TV Live, or if you're prepared to pay more for extra online features, the D-Link Boxee Box.

Basic Specifications

Rating***
Media Streamer typestreaming multimedia receiver

Audio Compatibility

Audio MP3 playbackYes
Audio WMA playbackYes
Audio WMA-DRM playbackYes
Audio AAC playbackYes
Audio Protected AAC playbackNo
Audio OGG playbackYes
Audio WAV playbackYes
Audio Audible playbackNo
Other audio formatsFLAC

Video Compatibility

Other video formatsMPEG-1, MPEG-2, MPEG-4, H.264, WMV9, XVID, DIVX, VC-1

Image Compatibility

Image BMP supportYes
Image JPEG supportYes
Image TIFF supportYes

Network Interfaces

Wired network ports1x 10/100
Wireless networking supportYes

AV Interfaces

Minijack line outputs0
Minijack headphone outputs0
Stereo phono outputs1
Coaxial S/PDIF outputs0
Optical S/PDIF outputs1
Total SCART sockets0
HDMI outputs1
Component outputs0
S-video output0
Composite outputs1
Other connectors1x USB, 1x eSATA/USB

Physical

Size28x132x101mm
Power consumption standby0W
Power consumption on5W

Server Compatibility

Software includednone
UPnPYes
iTunesNo
SlimServerNo
SMBYes

Buying Information

Price£111
Warrantyone year RTB
Supplierhttp://www.scan.co.uk
Detailswww.viewsoniceurope.com

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