If you can do without games or the Web, Viewsonic’s 5-inch portable media player could be a good alternative to the impending e-reader and tablet glut.
The MovieBook VDP550T plays video in lots of formats: DAT, MPG, MPEG, VOB, MP4, MOV, AVI, DVD Video, ASF, WMV, MKV, TS, and RM/RMVB, CNet reports. It plays audio too, supporting the lossless FLAC and WAV formats along with the usual lossy suspects. In addition, the VDP550T reads e-books (supported formats aren’t specified), views photos and has some other basics such as a calculator, voice recorder and calendar.
The 5-inch screen has a resolution of 800-by-480, with 1080p video. I’m not sure you’d notice 1080p on a screen that small, but there is an HDMI output for viewing on big screens. Videos can play for four hours on a charge, and the device will last 20 hours playing audio. For storage, you get 8 GB on board, plus a microSD slot.
You’d think a device like this would carry a criminally high price tag, but it’s actually just $200, same as an 8 GB iPod Touch. Sure, you lose the App Store, the games and the Wi-Fi connectivity, but the bigger screen and wide variety of supported formats could make this worthwhile, especially if you’re in the market for a cheap e-reader. The inability to download new content directly onto the device is also a drag — especially as that seems to be the trend with phones and e-readers — but the VDP550T’s relatively low price makes that sacrifice more palatable.
Viewsonic has a few other models in store as well, including a 720p 5-inch player for $190, a 4-inch player for $140 and a 3-inch player that is somehow more expensive than its slightly-larger sibling at $150.