Given that ViewSonic’s core business revolves around computer monitors and business-oriented video projectors, we weren’t expecting all that much when we unboxed their NexTV VMP75 media streamer. Wow, did we ever underestimate.
Like the Roku, the VMP75 enables you to play any title in Netflix’s streaming library, not just the ones in your queue. But like the Seagate and Western Digital devices, View-Sonic’s outputs video at full 1080p resolution. And like those devices, it plays all your own media, whether it’s stored on a portable hard drive or on another device on your network. The VMP75 doesn’t limit you to USB devices, either, as it has an eSATA port, too.
The feature that really sets ViewSonic apart from the competition is the inclusion of a full-fledged web browser. The other boxes keep you in a walled garden: You can use only the web services the manufacturers allow, and the user interface for those services is one the manufacturers developed, not the one you’d see on a computer. With the ViewSonic, you can go anywhere you want on the Internet and use whatever services you fancy.
Take YouTube, for instance. Seagate and Western Digital provide lists (Newest, Most Popular, Most Commented, etc.) and thumbnail images linked to videos. ViewSonic’s browser takes you to the YouTube website and delivers the very same experience you’d get if you visited YouTube on a PC. The same goes for Flickr, ShoutCast, and Facebook (although the VMP75 does not support Flash content, including games).
The VMP75’s user interface is vastly superior to the ones on all three of the other products, and it comes with a best-in-class remote control. The remote has dedicated buttons for navigating to your music, video, or digital photo content, displaying DVD menus from ISO images, and more. It also has a D-pad that doubles as a playback controller (play/pause, forward/reverse) when you’re streaming media, and serves as a cursor controller when you’re navigating menus or websites.
The VMP75 supports all the important media file formats and containers. It’s not quite as strong as Western Digital’s product on this count, but it’s much better than Seagate’s (with the exception of MJPEG). This is the streamer we want in our entertainment center.
This review is part of a Maximum Tech media player roundup which can be found here.