Nick Peers
21/12/2011 16:39 | By Nick Peers, contributor, MSN Tech & Gadgets

Elonex PMP-50 review

This big-screen player is a good compromise for those wishing to view video without squinting or breaking the bank.

Elonex PMP-50 review (© Elonex)

What is it?
A surprisingly large-screened multimedia player for under £60

What's great
Packed with features; audio quality more than adequate; 800x480 resolution screen

What's not
Resistative touch-screen awkward to use; user interface not as intuitive as it might be; battery life poor

The bottom line
A good compromise for those wishing to view video on a decent sized screen without breaking the bank.

Many multimedia players are primarily music players with a token nod towards video. Sure, you can watch it, but you pay a high price thanks to a small, low-resolution screen.

What's particularly impressive about the PMP-50, then, isn't just that it offers a five-inch screen displaying video at a watchable 800x480 resolution, but that you're not paying a premium for the privilege. It doesn't take long to find out how this trick has been performed.

Build-wise, the Elonex is chunky, available in a choice of four colours (black, white, pink and blue), but still light enough to hold reasonably comfortably in one hand.

The screen fires up to display an attractive, readable user interface, and it looks like you're on to a winner - until you come to touch it.

The major drawback of the PMP-50, albeit one entirely understandable at this price point, is that the touchscreen uses the older resistive technology. It's clunky, ponderous and far less forgiving than the whizz-bang experience afforded by capacitive touchscreens found on higher-priced rivals.

The user interface does its best to help - and things are helped by the size of the screen, but it's not quite as intuitive as it could be.

Take video, for example. Switch to another screen during playback, and the unit doesn't remember where you left off. Returning to your previous point via the timeline controls is practically impossible due to the lack of accuracy, and while you can manually tap Add Tag before stopping playback to remember your point (return via the Tag List menu), it's still annoying.

Elonex PMP-50 review (© Elonex)

When it comes to watching video, the five-inch screen coupled with reasonable resolution means that video looks pretty good, and is easy enough on the eye to make it a practical device for watching longer movies. Support for most popular formats also means it's not going to be a problem transferring your video across to the device.

It's not all good news - the screen is a little on the dim side - even with the brightness pushed all the way up, and there's not a particularly wide angle of vision, although at a push two people can watch it.

What is welcome - particularly at this price point - is the HDMI socket, allowing you to hook up the unit to watch up to 720p video on your digital TV (you'll have to supply your own cable, though).

Another nice touch is the inclusion of a remote control with simple playback controls for navigating your collection when connected to the TV.

There's an onboard 1.3-megapixel camera for still and video shots too, but our indoor test footage came out grainy and jerky, so it's clearly not for primetime use.

It's not just about video, though - the unit handles music well too. The built-in speaker at the back is fine for unsophisticated ears, but plug in a decent set of headphones and it produces a pleasant, rich tone, with plenty of volume to spare. Sadly there's no means of tweaking the sound via a graphic equalizer, but navigation is straightforward enough, if a little convoluted.

One final downer: the battery life is poor. Fiddling about with various controls and playing with video and music gave us only a few hours of use before the dreaded recharge sign reappeared. As a consequence, this might handle one way of the daily commute, but it won't last the distance on long journeys without a top-up.

Considering its low price point, and allowing for the compromises made with the screen and battery life, the Elonex PMP-50 is well worth checking out if you're looking for a cheap and cheerful portable player that is as comfortable displaying video as it is playing music.

The Elonex PMP-50 is rated three and a half stars out of five by MSN Tech & Gadgets

Other players in this price range
Bigger hard drive, capacitive 4.3-inch touchscreen, vastly superior battery life: Cowon X7
Basic 2.2-inch touchscreen, better audio playback: Samsung YP-Q3

Essential info
Capacity: 4GB
Expansion: microSD slot, up to 32GB
Screen (size, type, resolution): five-inch LED-backit resistive touchscreen, 800x480 pixels
Audio formats supported: MP3, WMA, WAV, AAC (non-DRM only)
Video formats supported: WMV, AVI, MPGE4, VOB, DAT, SWF
Other features: 1.3MP camera (video and still), calendar, voice recorder, stopwatch, mini-HDMI out, IR remote control
Stated Battery life: 25 hours (audio), 10 hours (photos), 8 hours (video)
Dimensions: 84mm x 128mm x 13mm, 175g