|At a Glance|
|Product||Viewsonic NexTV Full HD 1080p network media player (VMP75)|
|Summary||Inexpensive media player with Netflix support and integrated web browser|
|Pros||• Attractive UI
• Extensive video formats supported
• 1080p support
• Built in web browser
|Cons||• Network sharing issues with Mac OS
• Netflix crashes and problems
• Limited Internet services
• No Flash for web browser
It's clear that in the future, all access to your videos, photos, and music will be over a network. Physical media is on the way out and the rumored bankruptcy filing of Blockbuster is a sign of things to come.
If all of your multimedia files are on the network, you'll need a gadget to access and play those files in your entertainment center. In this review, I'll check out one such device, the Viewsonic VMP75. The VM75 is advertised to support numerous multimedia file types, high definition content and integration with the Netflix streaming service. Let's see how well it works.
If you have Ethernet available in your entertainment center, setting up this little box is not much more difficult than plugging in your network along with the standard audio/video cables. Figure 1, from Viewsonic's manual, shows the back panel of the unit with all the connectors labeled.
Figure 1: Back panel of the Viewsonic VMP75
This was the first network media player I've seen that had a combo eSATA/USB port. It worked fine, but it made connecting cables in the cramped back panel just a little more difficult than a standard port. And what can you plug into these ports?
If you don't have wired Ethernet available, the VMP75 supports use of various USB WIFI adaptors. For users going this route, see the Viewsonic Web Page for supported models. I don't have an adaptor myself, so I won't cover wireless setup or usage in this review.
The USB ports can also be used for a mouse and/or a keyboard, which comes in handy when dealing with some features that require text input. But the main draw of the USB and eSATA ports is for external drives. Load up a disk with your media collection, plug it into the VMP75 and the content is immediately available on your TV. Disk formats of EXT 2/3, NTFS, and FAT 16/32 are supported.
For controlling the box, you'll use the remote shown in Figure 2.
Figure 2: VMP75 remote
The remote worked well enough, but it's not backlit. So if you plan on using the VMP75 in a darkened room, you'll have to navigate through its numerous buttons by feel.
When you have the box all plugged in and powered up, you'll notice that it is completely silent, because it uses no fan. As for power-draw, you won't be footing a big bill for this box. My power-meter registered less than 5 W when the VMP75 was in use and none when turned off.