The Vosonic VP8360 -- or Wolverine ESP as it's known Stateside -- is a portable media player, PVR, backup drive, 7-in-1 card reader and photo viewer. It's a belter of a portable media device and at around £250 for the 80GB model it won't break the bank either. We reviewed the 80GB version, but 60GB, 100GB and 120GB options are also available.
With its smooth, curvy, grey-black finish, the VP8360 looks professional and rather expensive. A silver quad-directional navigation button is located on the right-hand side, ideally placed for thumb usage. Though a little fiddly in practice, the navigation and selection buttons are well positioned when the device is used with two hands.
On top, two separate card reader slots take pride of place, alongside video and audio output sockets. These are perfectly positioned for use when the player is docked or held, but it's difficult to get the player in a trouser pocket without bending the bottom of the headphone cable to an unacceptable degree. Most headphones will survive this though, so it's no huge issue.
Finally, there's a user-replaceable hard drive. This is an interesting addition and one that adds value to the player -- it means you could upgrade it without sending it to a specialist.
It has to be said: this is a feature-packed device. The VP8360 will play back very high quality video files in MPEG-1, MPEG-4, DivX and Xvid, with some formats being supported at a resolution of up to 720x480 pixels. The player does support Windows Media Video, but we found a few compatibility issues with videos that were encoded with very recent versions of WMV. WMV9 is completely supported, however.
There are many supported audio formats (for full details see our specs page), including support for Microsoft's DRM10 copy-protection format. Sadly there's no support for FLAC or OGG formats, which surprised us. And although music files are supported, you'll have to organise your media into folders with appropriate names -- the VP8360 doesn't utilise ID3 tags when browsing. Only when listening to the tracks is embedded information displayed.
The 91mm (3.6-inch), 320x240-pixel TFT LCD display is bright and clear. We found it quite comfortable to watch full television shows on here, and even movies are manageable when used with the supplied stand. Sound is something of a let-down when using the built-in mono speaker, but plug in some decent headphones and the quality is excellent. The loudspeaker is best for speech.
The VP8360 allows you to record from a TV source, such as a camcorder, digital camera or television. The quality is fantastic in the preconfigured MPEG-4 format, with AAC-format audio at a bit rate that's just below CD quality. The device encodes in real time so there's no waiting around. It's also possible to record live radio from the built-in FM tuner, along with voice recording from the built-in microphone. A line-in socket also allows direct recording from any audio source that has a headphone socket. We recorded a few tracks off our iPod with excellent results.
There's a 7-in-1 card reader that kindly provides a backup facility for all your digital snaps. The ability to backup gigabyte after gigabyte of photos, not to mention the ability to view them all -- including those in raw format -- on the device itself is fantastic. The only downside we noticed was when viewing large-resolution photographs, which produced non-existent artefacts during downscaling, along with 'jaggies' around the edges of objects.
Read/write times to the hard disk were excellent. Three gigabytes of data took little over three minutes to transfer to the device. Windows detects the VP8360 as both a removable disk and a hard drive, so you'll snag an extra 80GB of storage when you plug this little beauty into your laptop.
We got a healthy 13 hours of continuous music playback from a single charge, and 4 hours of MPEG-4 video playback.
This is a good product for such a low price. You're getting a huge number of functions for little more than the 80GB video iPod. The VP8360 is not to be missed by the travelling photographer or video enthusiast.
Edited by Jason Jenkins
Additional editing by Nick Hide