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MP3 Players

Photos: Hands-on with the Vosonic 8860 PMP

With a massive internal hard drive, support for loads of camera memory cards and support for popular image and video formats, this could be the movie-loving photographer's best buddy

It's been close to a pair of years since a Vosonic PMP wormed its way into our clutches. Our last date with Vosonic was with the 8360, which may was something of a 'Miss Thunder Thighs', thanks to its laughable bulk, but nevertheless it was a photographer and video fan's best friend.

We're courting its big fat sister at the moment, and very accommodating she is too. Mainly with memory -- it comes with integrated ports for Compact Flash, Memory Stick, SD and SDHC, MMC, plus a few others when used with adaptors. It'll handle JPEG, BMP, GIF, TIFF and raw image files, and although sluggish to zoom and rotate raw files, it allowed quick viewing directly from the Compact Flash card.

What's more, files from memory cards can be copied to the internal hard drive, which comes in 120GB, 160GB and 320GB capacity options. We don't need to say this is a God-send for travelling photographers needing to backup their memory cards. When inserting a card, you're immediately offered the option to backup its contents, and file transfer was snappy.

The 109mm (4.3-inch), 800x480-pixel screen was better than we were expecting, with decent colour reproduction and surprisingly crisp images, even at high resolution. Videos up to DVD quality looked good too, and we got MPEG-4 SP, MPEG 2, VOB, Xvid and DivX 5 clips to play without any sync complaints. DivX 3 files are not compatible, and for some inane reason neither are any WMV files.

AAC, FLAC, MP3, WAV, OGG and unprotected WMA audio files played back without issue, and for a device for which audio isn't a key feature, this roster of file formats is worthy of a high-five. Maybe a high-ten? Well, go on then, since some dedicated MP3 players still don't support this many codecs.

Other features include AV-out, live video recording via composite-in (which didn't work well in our tests so far), and FM radio. A removable battery comes bundled, but the system can be powered from USB or the supplied mains adaptor.

Truth be told, the ideal user is a wealthy photographer (the 320GB model sells for £330!) who needs a pocketable backup device while out on shoots. Not lugging around a laptop and enjoying a movie while travelling to said shoots would be a bonus. And for this person, it's a commendable performer.

But for anyone who just wants a solid PMP without the photographic features, there are much better, much more attractive PMPs out there, such as the Cowon A3, the Archos 5 or even the iPod touch.

Buttons and controls. Not the most responsive in history, but functional.

Memory cards sit up top, behind a pair of flaps.

As you can see in this comparison with the iPhone, it's not small, but that's always been the limitation of using hard disks.