ViewSonic VPD500 review

Alan Lu
11 Nov 2009
Our Rating 
Price when reviewed 
inc VAT

The VPD500 is an affordable portable video player with wide format support, but is let down by its fiddly controls and poor image quality.


ViewSonic's VPD500 has a huge 5in screen with a high resolution of 800x480 pixels. This also means it's fairly large and heavy at just under 200g, so it's meant to be carried in your bag rather than your pocket.

It's ideal for watching video and supports a wide variety of formats, playing all our MPEG2, DivX and H.264 test videos without problems. It can resume playback from where you left off and you can adjust the screen brightness and aspect ratio without having to stop the video.

Unfortunately, we were disappointed with the screen's quality. It's not very bright and contrast is poor, so distinguishing details in dimly lit films and programmes can be difficult. Viewing angles are tight, which isn't ideal if you want to watch a video with a friend. The battery lasted just over six hours when playing video, which is a very respectable time.

Although the VPD500 is designed mainly for watching video, it can play music too. You'll need a better-quality pair of headphones to make the most of your tunes, as the included earphones sound muddy and harsh. The VPD500 can also receive FM radio broadcasts, although we had trouble getting a clear signal in our central London offices. Unlike any other player we've seen, it can also transmit an FM radio signal without the need for an external transmitter, so you can listen to your music on your car speakers even if your car radio doesn't have any audio inputs.

The VPD500's interface bears an uncanny resemblance to the XMB interface of Sony's PlayStation. Its menus are logically organised and easy to navigate, despite the rather fiddly top-mounted buttons, which are awkward and uncomfortable to press, especially when scrolling through long lists. Annoyingly it doesn't support music playlists, although these can be approximated using folders in Windows Explorer.

At just over £100, ViewSonic's VPD500 is cheap for a 16GB portable video player with such a large screen and broad video support. However, screen quality is poor, so iRiver's E200 8GB is a better choice for most people.


Headphone Rating**


Formatted capacity7.38GB
Storage mediumflash memory
Battery and charge optionsLi-ion, USB, included charger


Device has screen?Yes
Viewable size5 in
Native resolution800x480
Memory card supportMicroSD
FM Radiono
Audio record optionsmicrophone
Video record optionsnone
Supplied withheadphones, USB cable, A/V cable, component cable, power adapter

Test Results

Tested battery life (MP3 playback)14h 30m
Tested battery life (Video playback)6h 10m
500MB transfer time3m 10s
Audio MP3 playbackYes
Audio WMA playbackYes
Audio WMA-DRM playbackYes
Audio AAC playbackNo
Audio Protected AAC playbackNo
Audio OGG playbackNo
Audio WAV playbackYes
Audio Audible playbackNo
Image BMP supportYes
Image JPEG supportYes
Image TIFF supportNo
Video MPEG-4 AVI playbackYes
Video MPEG-4 MP4 playbackYes
Video WMV playbackNo
Video MPEG-1 playbackYes
Video MPEG-2 playbackYes
Video MPEG-2 VOB playbackYes
Video MPEG-4 DivX/XviD supportYes
Video H.264 supportYes
Video MPEG-4 MP3 audio supportYes
Video MPEG-4 AAC audio supportYes
Download compatibilityWMA-DRM subscription and download

Buying Information

Price per MB0.6p
Warrantyone year RTB

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