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Remember the tiny, ickle ViewSonic VMP30 media player we tested back in November -- the one that claimed to handle 1080p video but struggled slightly? Well we've recently had a chance to take a look at its bigger brother, the VMP72, which ViewSonic says addresses the problems of its smaller sibling.

The VMP72 certainly looks the part. Whereas the VMP30 resembled something that had fallen out of a cracker, the VMP72, while quite plasticky, is pretty fetching and should blend well with your existing AV set-up.

The VMP72 also has a wider range of ports. HDMI is present, as are component and composite video outputs and a digital S/PDIF audio jack. Interestingly, ViewSonic's thrown in a couple of USB ports for connecting your media sources, along with an Ethernet port for hooking the VMP72 up to a network-attached storage device.

The list of supported codecs also seems to have increased, and is now as long as your arm. AVI, ASF, MKV, TS, DAT, MPEG, VOB, ISO, IFO, TP, M2TS, MP4, MOV and -- breathe -- WMV are all supported. Finally, the remote control no longer looks as if it's been designed and built by a four-year-old child.

It all seems pretty good so far, but how does the VMP72 perform? Pretty flippin' well, actually. Playback of our standard-definition test videos was as smooth as butter. Even high-bit-rate 1080p MOV and MKV videos ran flawlessly. The system began to drop frames when asked to play files with bit rates of 38Mbps and above -- just below Blu-ray quality -- but worked wonderfully with less complex files.

Ultimately, we'd say the VMP72 is a cracking buy. It'll run just about anything you can throw at it, and is very good value at a mere £100 or so. We've dropped ViewSonic a line to find out when the VMP72 will be available and will update this story when we have an answer.

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The rear of the VMP72 is home to component and composite outputs, S/PDIF audio and Ethernet jacks, and two USB ports.
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