Portable Media Player / Personal Media Player / Portable Video Player - PMP400 review

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Introduction

What is a PMP/PVP?

Simply put, it is a Video or Movie Player that you can carry with you anywhere.

Such device is known in many names, such a
PMP = Portable Media Player = Personal Media Player
PVP = Portable Video Player = Personal Video Player

These days, PMP/PVP often are capable of both music and video playback, video and sound recording, read e-book (txt) as well as other more advance functions.

This Portable Media Player - PMP400 and its similar looking variants (with/without TV recording, etc) were released in Mainland China from late 2006 and early 2007 by several companies and sold under different brand name/models as listed below. (Please note that Portable Electronics Ltd is not affiliated with these companies.)

Chinese Brand/model
Chinese Review Sites
Imax T9000 pcolive, IT168, yesky, it.com.cn, zol.com.cn
Blog 400A1 yesky, PConline, v15i.com (PMP dissection)
Blog A++ NA
Blog A+ (without TV recording) zol.com.cn
Zarva MV570 (without TV recording) zol.com.cn, zol.com.cn (pic) , eNet
DMX DMP-500 (without TV recording) zol.com.cn
Hendon PMP7000 plus zol.com.cn
Phoebe PMP0642 & PMP0641 NA
Optimus Ivy NA
Black Movie DVR-600 NA
Onvon PMP-002 NA

Note: these web pages are in Chinese. But contains lots of photos to look at. Cool

From the sheer number of companies selling this PMP, there is no doubt that this is a unit worth buying or considering. Outside China, Portable Electronics Limited is the 1st company who started distributing this product world-wide as well as bring the sole distributor in New Zealand and Australia. Since then, several overseas companies have started selling the PMP400 and its variants in different countries listed below. Sadly, none of these chinese nor overseas companies constantly sought to improve and release new firmware like Portable Electronics Ltd. In addition, there are also many traders selling the same unit on ebay. However, buyer should be wary about these ebay traders as they tend to provide non existant after-sales service. To avoid disappointment in after-sales service, we suggest users should consider buying from Portable Electronics Ltd who always provides top customer services.

Country Brand/model Company / URL
Germany OEM o3b-media GmbH - www.leben-und-mehr.de
Poland Booster Irydi - http://irydi.pl
Spain AIRIS POP VIDEO 200 PMPA80 Airis - http://www.airis.es
France MP3ACCESS LECTEUR GLOBALMEDIA 120 GO globalaccess - http://www.mp3access.fr
UK OEM Glenelg Media - http://www.glenelg-media.com
AU

BlackMedia Portable PVR

unknown

Note: Portable Electronics Ltd is not affiliated with these companies.

For more information regarding this PMP player, users are invited to take a look at the instruction manual which will provide details on the various features/functions/aspects not covered in this review or our constantly updated FAQ.

See here for opinion from one of our customers.

Appearance and packaging

 

Before the PMP is received, and while I was looking at the dimension of this player, Geez.... this PMP seems a bit too large. However, after I had played with it for a while, I feel like the size of this device is just about right. This PMP gives you a solid feel while holding it on your hand, light enough to carry around and heavy enough to remind you that you are still carrying it (and have misplaced it somewhere...;)

The black appearance of this PMP gives it a serious manly look and probably more appealing to man than ladies, especially video (also music) geeks. The front of the PMP is flat as the LCD panel is covered and protected by a piece of glass panel. This should provide reasonable protection against scratches and other insults from day to day usage.

The on/off switch is located on the left hand side of the PMP above the indicator lights for charging, power and hard disk. The red charging light stays on while charging from wall charger or USB port and turns itself off when the battery is full. The green power indicator lights up while the player is on. The red hard disk indicator indicates hard disk activity and can be seen flashing while playing video or copying files when being used as a USB hard disk. On the right hand side, you have the the volume up/down button, M (menu) button, 5 way (up/down/left/right/enter) navigation button, play/pause button as well as the stop button. Along the sides of the PMP, we have the DC power inlet at the top; earphone, AV in, AV out as well as the USB/OTG port on the left ; Reset and key hold button at the bottom; back cover lock on the right.

This PMP features a removable battery design. The battery is located on the back cover and can be easily replaced by pulling the back cover off and putting another back cover on. If one pulls the back cover off, you can see the battery clearly located on the center of the back cover with two speakers at the side. The hard disk used on this PMP is the same as 2.5" hard disk found in laptop computers and can be easily replaced/upgraded by users by pulling this back cover off and swapping in a new one. Two good things I like about this back cover is that there is no wires attached to the back cover so there is not fear that pulling the back cover off might also break the battery wire ;), in addition, you don't need a screw driver to open the back cover to change a battery or replace the hard disk!!!! No screws to lose :) Nice.

Overall, the location of the buttons are well placed, although the buttons a bit hard, i.e. needs a bit more force to press, except the 5 way navigational button which is very easy to use and feel a bit like a joystick. Well, as the buttons are not easy to press without placing some force, the good thing is that it is not very likely to accidentally press on any keys even if key hold is not used.

Accessories

The PMP400 comes with a lot of useful standard accessories straight out of the box. In other words, one would be able to enjoy using the PMP400 without further financial investment on accessories to enjoy the benefit of this PMP400 unit.

The standard accessories are Remote Controller, Charger, Pouch, earphone, 1x USB cable, 1x OTG cable, RCA TV cable, Lithium ion polymer battery.

Portable Electronics Ltd also offer the following optional accessories/service for purchase separately to allow users to a more enjoyable experience the PMP400. Take note that Portable Electronics Ltd is the only known company offering these useful optional accessories/service, for an additional fee or FREE.

Item
Comments
PMP400 battery Useful for battery swaping on the road or to replace dying battery.
OTG FM transmitter Must have item to transform your PMP400 into your car entertainment system through thre car radio.
PMP400 Leather pouch Handy to keep the PMP400 well protected against dust or scratches. A spare won't hurt.
4.3" LCD protector For those who are afraid of causing scratches to the LCD screen accidentally.
PMP400 car charger To keep the PMP400 charged during long road trips.
PMP400 wall charger Save you the trouble of carrying the charger around. One for office, one for home, etc.
International Travel adapter Must have when traveling to different countries. (Unless you use computer USB charging.)
Extended warranty Fantastic for giving user peace of mind in case of hardware failure.
Repair Service outside warranty Indispensable when the unit goes hairwire beyond the normal warranty period.

GUI Navigation & Control and LCD quality

Navigation through the various menus in the player is easy, almost a three year old can do it. Navigation is done via the 5 way navigation key, simply press left/right and the menu will rotate for you to press enter on the 5 way navigation key to get in. Pressing Volume up/down change the volume during video and music playback. Press Play to play, Stop to stop or exit, simple as is. (more screen shots of the GUI available from the pdf manual)

This PMP uses a 16:9 4.3" 16.7 million colour LCD panel, which the manufacturer claims that it is the same as the Sony PSP's LCD panel. The video playback quality on this PMP is excellent, basically the LCD quality is as good as high quality LCD monitors on computers, I don't think there are many devices out there which look any better this. Furthermore, the 4.3" size is fantastic, it is the optimum size for a portable video player, anything larger screen will result in larger player and also bigger battery, making it less portable (probably until paper thin foldable screens, like those in movies hit the market). For music lovers, this PMP an excellent device to playback your favourite MTVs and sing along with it while you are on the bus, train, etc. For longer trips, it will definitely reduce your boredom to watch a nice movie on the way. (you probably should get an extra battery on long trips though)

File format compatibility

Codec Supported Not supported
dixv 3 x  
dixv 4 x  
divx 5 x  
dixv 6 x  
xvid x  
MPEG4 x  
MPEG2 x  
MPEG1 x  
AC3 x  
VOB (DVD) x  
DAT (VCD) x  
mov   x
*.mp4 x  
3gp   x
RM   x
RMVB   x
WMV   x
MKV   x
ASF   x

This table contains most of the popular formats currently on the market. Please Contact us with URL to a sample file if you want to know if a specific format is supported.

When it comes to file format compatibility, this PMP is essentially unbeatable. It supports nearly every format out there. It can play most video files directly without doing any conversion using software which is a major hassle in mp4 players, such as Apple's Ipod. Many other manufacturers' PMP only support either DIVX or XVID and very few can support both like this PMP. In addition, many PMP also do not support AC3 sound track like this unit. It is very annoying if AC3 is not supported as more and more videos are encoded in AC3 sound tracks. For people with lots of VCD or DVDs lying around, you can also copy the DVD or VCD video files directly over and this PMP can play it without any problems. Wink

Features

Music and lyric

As expected, it can play mp3, wma and as well as ogg music files. MP3 ID3 information are displayed on screen and lyric can also be displayed if *.irc file with the same name as the music file is available.

Language

This PMP supports 7 languages adjustable from the settings, namely English, Chinese, Portuguese, Spanish, French, German and Italian.

Photo

Like many other players, one can browse photos on this PMP or via slide shows. There are many useful functions such as zoom, rotate, move, etc. Photo loading is very fast and of course, the photos look very nice on this LCD. You can also activate the music player and listen to your favourite music in the background at the same time as well!!!

USB 2.0 Hard disk

Like many hard disk based players, once connected to the computer, you can use this PMP's hard disk as a portable USB hard disk. Very handy to store all your files, as well as your work. A PMP based hard disk is better companion than standard hard disk, allowing you to watch your video or music on your way to work or school ;)

Dual powered

As this PMP can be charged from its wall charger as well as USB port. You will never run out of steam when using this PMP :) Eg, for students, it is relatively easy to find a USB port from the computers in the school or university to plug in to charge while you work/study, or you can use USB's power to charge the PMP while listening music on it when working on the computer.

Sound recorder

During lectures or meetings, pull your PMP out and you can use it to record the conversations/lectures for playback later.

How good is the quality? Check it out yourself ;)

University lecture recorded using the build-in mic of PMP400 (Bitrate: 32kHz 64kbps, Duration: 5mins, Size: 2.28MB) - US server

Upgradable firmware

Found some bugs or want new features not available on the exisiting firmware? No problem, upgrade to the latest firmware easily for bug fixed or new features. Unlike other PMP400 sellers, Portable Electronics is proud to be listening to customer requests/comments and constantly releasing new improved firmware. Check out our latest firmware here.

Digital Video Recorder (TV IN/OUT)

Want to record some TV shows, DVD/VCD movie, old records, etc? No problem, you can record it immediately using the PMP or programme the timer to automatically turn on, record and then shuts down. You can even play back videos on your Large Screen TV, home theatre, etc using the TV out port of this PMP. Much more cost effective than other methods. Some people have even coupled this PMP400 (using car charger) with helmet camera and are reporting good results. Cool

How good is the quality? Check it out yourself ;)

NZ TV news recorded using PMP400 (Duration: 44 seconds, Size: 16.2 MB) - US server

The PMP400 records video and encode it into Divx 5 format, hence Divx decoder from Divx.com must be installed in order for your PC to play it.

Remote Controller

The remote controller that comes with the PMP is handy and very easy to use. Basically, it has the same navigation buttons as found on the PMP itself. However, the effective range of the remote is much shorter than manufacturer's claim of 8m. Testing shows it only works up to 0.8m for the older units while it does work up to 8m for newer units (blue dot PMPs) which have this issue corrected.

OTG

Have a digital camera running out of memory while on a trip and don't have access to a computer? Just use this PMP's OTG function to copy all the photos over to its hard disk and continue shooting more photos. :)

E-book

Need to read some text files on the road? No problem, you can read all your text files on the 4.3" screen and listen to your favourite music in the background at the same time as well!!! so you won't be bored :)

Speaker

Forgotten to bring your earphone? No problem, you can listen to your music or watch video using the build-in stereo speaker. (although it will use more power...)

Hard disk benchmark

(performed using ASUS A6T Laptop)
File format: FAT32
Max number of partitions: 1x FAT32
Readable by Computer File format: Any (eg, FAT32, NTFS, etc) - as long as the operating system supports it
Max number of partitions: unlimited

Seagate 5400.3 Series

2.5" Seagate 5400.3 5400rpm 80GB Hard disk benchmark inside a laptop

2.5" Seagate 5400.3 5400rpm 80GB Hard disk benchmark in a PMP400

Fujitsu MHVxxxxAH Series

2.5" Fujitsu MHV2100AH 5400rpm 100GB Hard disk benchmark in a Laptop

2.5" Fujitsu MHV2100AH 5400rpm 100GB Hard disk benchmark in a PMP400

Hitachi 5k120 Series

2.5" Hitachi 5k120 5400rpm 120GB Hard disk benchmark in a PMP400

Battery life test

PMP400 non-stop continuous playback battery life test using different hard disk.

Note: the battery life shown here is indicative only and may not reflect actual battery life under real-life use because it tends to be dependent on many factors such as brand of hard disk used, the way the device is used, etc.

Test Conditions:

Video and Music tests
Volume: 50% using headphone (i.e. build-in speaker is off)
LCD: default settings
Playback mode: Continuous non-stop

DVR tests
Input: not conected, i.e. blank screen is being recorded
LCD: off
Recording mode: Continuous non-stop

   

DVR Test

Video Test

Music Test

Hard disk Firmware Blank recording Japanese MTV (Divx)
Downloaded from Stage 6
Chinese MPEG MTV
352x240
VCD (*.dat) DVD (*.vob) 128kbps mp3
repeat mode
320kbps mp3
repeat mode
Fujitsu MHV2100AH
100GB 5400rpm
Ver 3   3h 17 min 3h 59 min     5h 53 min 5h 41 min
Seagate 5400.3
120GB 5400rpm
Ver 3   2h 42 min 2h 23 min        
Seagate 5400.3
80GB 5400rpm
Ver 3   2h 47 min   3h 4 min 2h 33 min 5h 48 min  
Hitachi 5k120
120GB 5400rpm
Ver 3   3h 15 min   3h 57 min   6h 20 min  

Hitachi 5k160
160GB 5400rpm
APM: default

Ver 5   3 hr 15 min          
Hitachi 5k160
160GB 5400rpm
APM: lowest power
Ver 5   3 hr 17 min       6 h 53 min  

WD Scorpio
250GB 5400rpm
WD2500BEVE

Ver 7   3 hr 29 min          
WD Scorpio
160GB 5400rpm
WD1600BEVE
Ver 8 2 hr 21min 3 hr 23 min          

APM = advanced power management

Summary

Pros:

  • Very good image quality
  • Fast video/photo loading
  • Can auto detect insertion of earphone and disable build-in speaker
  • Cheap price compared to other devices with similar features
  • Replaceable hard disk and battery

Cons:

  • unit might be a bit too big for some people
  • battery life might be a bit short for longer trips
  • remote's range is too short
  • response to volume or menu control is slow when playing some video files

Conclusion:

A very handy inexpensive device to own, giving users the convenience to carry and listen to their favourite videos and music anywhere. In addition, it also function as a DVR (digital video recorder) with scheduled timer function and can play back on any TV. As a bonus, user can use it as a portable hard disk to carry their computer files and documents, etc.


Imax T7000

There is a cheaper alternative to the higher end model above. It is known as Imax T7000 or Newman M6000.

RRP price for these PMP players

Imax T7000 - 60GB RMB$1999
Newman M6000 - 60GB RMB$1699, 100GB RMB$1999

There are several reviews on these players published on the internet.
Note: these web pages are in Chinese. But contains lots of photos to look at. Cool

Imax T7000 - (have not found one yet)
Newman M6000 - Zol.com.cn, Zol.com.nc (pic) , Yesky

Appearance and packaging

In photos, the PMP400 and T7000 looks similar and it was a surprise that the material used for T7000 is actually worse than PMP400. That's probably why T7000 is much cheaper than PMP400. The navigational button of T7000 feels cheap, unlike the PMP400 which is like a good quality gaming joystick.

GUI and LCD

The GUI and OS of this unit is obviously different from PMP400 above.

On the user's perspective, the operating system of T7000 somewhat better than PMP400 in some context while worse in other's. For example, under the main menu, scrolling between video, music, etc feels faster than PMP400, probably because it lack the scrolling animation PMP400 does. Whereas, video loading on the PMP400 is almost instantaneous (<5 seconds) while the T7000 can take a long time (~5-40 seconds or more depending on the file size and type) to load the video. However, the fast forward and backward control is actually easy to operate on T7000 having 2x, 4x, 8x and 16x fastward or backward function. Another nice feature of the software is that it will prompt you to save a bookmark when you exit the video so that you can come back and resume at the same location later. Picture controls is easy to operate with Volume +/- acting as Zoom buttons; UP for rotate; Left/Right to move the picture left or right.

After you enter video/music at the main menu, it actually enters into a file browser and selectively filter files with the appropriate file extension. e.g. while browsing for video, it only shows video files such as *.avi but not others, likewise it only shows music files such as *.mp3 while browsing for music. Surprisingly for T7000, it can actually read Chinese characters while it is in English mode. Whereas PMP400 only reads the characters when its language is configured to match the language being read. (This issue has been rectified in newer PMP400 firmware.) Sadly, T7000 only supports English, Traditional and Simplified Chinese only. Unlike PMP400 which can support 7 different languages.

When watching video and pictures, the picture quality of T7000 is inferior compared to PMP400, although both are supposedly using the same LCD panel. Undecided

File format compatibility

File format support is essentially the same as PMP400 above except it does not play video encoded with AC3 audio.

Installing hard disk

As one tries to open the back cover of the unit to access the hard disk and battery. The first thing you notice is that there are four screws at the corners of the back cover. Taking the screws out and opening the back cover turns out to be a hassle because the screws are difficult to remove, almost feel like the screw threads are already damaged. (as we only have one unit, can't tell if other units have the same problem) Therefore, the back cover does not open up easily and took a while.

After it finally opened, immediately, we can see the material used for the case is inferior compared to PMP400. For PMP400, there is some barrier guarding the sides of the hard disk, whereas there is no such "protection" in T7000, the hard disk literally sits inside without any protection against movements!!!! i.e. it is entirely held in place only via the PATA connector, like the typical USB hard disk case. Looks like a big mistake for the manufacturer for not protecting the hard disk against movements.

Hard disk benchmark

(performed using ASUS A6T Laptop)

Fujitsu MHVxxxxAH Series

2.5" Fujitsu MHV2100AH 5400rpm 100GB Hard disk benchmark in a PMP400

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