How Do You Like Your Ainol? V8000HDW Review
The new-ish arrival of the Ainol V8000HDW player, which is a 6-inch horse with a screen resolution of 800×480, actually boasts some really quite great video playback capability. The player uses the latest Sochip SC9800 chip, one of the big boys, so you can expect high quality HD video playback. Right, well enough introduction, let’s get down to specifics, shall we? The first thing you should know is that it is not a touch screen.
The Basic Spec Rundown
- 6-inch screen with screen resolution of 800×480
- Comes in 1/2/4/8/16/32GB size.
- Sochip SC9800 chip
- Native supports H.264 (BP / MP / HP), MPEG-2 (MP), MPEG-4 (SP / ASP) / XviD (SP / AP), VC-1 (SP / MP / AP), WMV9 (SP / MP / AP), MPEG-1, H.263, DivX (3.11/4/5/6), M-JPEG (B) encoding formats and can decode the following file formats: TS, AVI, MP4, MPG, MKV, DAT, VOB, WMV, ASF, PMP, RM, RMVB, MOV, M2V, QT, M2.
- HDMI 1.3 enabling 480 x 272, 720 x 480, 1024 x 576, 720p and 1080p as a number of different video sizes.
So a white, cleanly designed package – what’s the story, morning glory? Right, well excusing my sheer pessimism, the box does its job. It doesn’t look bad at all but it doesn’t look different. Of course, you didn’t hand over the greenbacks to dawdle around oogling at the box, did you? The box has a picture of the player on one side, the model size on the other, and a full-hd sticker appearing twice, though very small. You’d think if they wanted to advertise that so much they’d have made it bigger but, alas, this review is not of the box. Moving forward.
Inside the box you get, of course, the player, an instruction booklet, a warranty card, a USB cable and Ainol branded earphones. Quite spartan. In fact, the relative lack of accessories was by design. You get the player and these bare essentials on the cheap, but if you want anything else you have to buy a second accessory box which (and here’s the really great part) includes the wall charger. You can, however, still charge the V8000HDW from your computer. The extra box also includes, to list a few, a carrying case, a remote, HDMI cable, audio-out cable and some sort of stand or clip, though I don’t think this is the sort of player to hang round your belt like some kind of fanny-pack with a screen.
Sometimes the large players out there on the market can look brutish or imposing so that you shy away from them while trying to convince yourself you’d never been seen carrying that around, nor would you even want to lug it around. The Ainol V8000HDW? No, it doesn’t suffer from that same assuming designing that other players might have and in fact looks quite simple and minimalistic which is nice.
It is not heavy – it’s actually fairly light as far as 6-inch players go, but not so light that you feel like a nasty wind would snatch it out of your hands and deposit it in the nearby puddle of city muck. It’s not so light that that you’d fail to notice it if someone had slipped one into your coat pocket (not that you’d complain at that). But it’s light enough to be convenient – quite so – and to not burden an already stacked briefcase or schoolbag.
On one side we have an earphone jack, a HDTV jack, a Micro SD slot for expansion of memory and the volume.
On the other we have the lock button, the charger input and the HDMI cable and USB slots.
On the top we have the buttons which you will use to navigate the interface.
Once you turn it on the main screen displays within seconds. The interface doesn’t exactly make full use of the 6-inch screen, but is not limited either. The menu is fairly self-explanatory, located on the right side. The analog clock and calendar are a nice touch, though largely superfluous. The battery indicator is done so by text that is slightly too large. A standard tick follows the browsing or clicking of each item. The menu buttons used to navigate are on the whole simple to use, though that doesn’t mean that you won’t make selection mistakes before you are fully used to it – because you will.
The video playback quality of the V8000HDW is, simply put, impressive. It can play through Windows Media 9 full 1080p files like it was taking a walk in the park. 720p MP4 files were no problem either, nor MKV. The video playback quality is top notch, no doubt due largely to the SC9800 chip which, as mentioned before, is one of the bigger and badder boys in the market. The player quite simply breezed through everything thrown at it on the video front, which was pleasant.
There existed an option to enhance the video files between very soft and very sharp, but I couldn’t really tell a difference either way. Chalk it up to my unseeing eyes, perhaps.
Lastly, this device suffers because it has quite poor viewing angles. Straight on, it all looks gravy, but start to tilt it and you lose a lot, for what it’s worth.
The audio interface is fairly simple – not a bad thing but nothing to write home about either. There is no album art to be displayed, and that might either be boon or curse. I, for one, can’t stand album art because most of it is obnoxious, but I’m sure that there are a fair few out there who like also to see what they are listening to. (As you can see, when out of the main menu, the battery displays as a simple icon rather than in words.)
You can browse through music in directory, or sort by ID3 tag including artist, album, genre, rating (which is called “Star” on the player) and year.
There is nothing to complain about with regard to the basic sound quality. It’s good, fairly refined. There are some user selectable listening modes such as pop, classical, jazz etc., but these probably won’t add much noticeable difference unless you have some quality earphones.
The speakers that come with the device leave a lot to be desired but would have limited use out there in the world anyway, so it isn’t such a big deal.
The picture viewer displays the images in a list until you select them, whereby they transform into their full screen glory. Images don’t look bad at all, though contrast seems a tad high but that might just be to do with the stock images that were preloaded onto the device. Colour is good, if a tad muted. One nice feature is when browsing through the photos while viewing a photo (achieved by pressing the arrow buttons while a photo is loaded full-screen), different transition effects appear to happen at random. Sometimes the next photo slides in, sometimes dissolves, sometimes there is a checker-patterned blinds effect which, as far as it goes, certainly makes the picture viewing experience more… unpredictable. Sometimes there just is no effect. It’s a crapshoot.
(Note: For some reason the camera kept picking up the refresh rate on this image. When taking photographs of the screen during video, the effect is not so pronounced. Keep in mind that the image quality is good – the distortion you see here is due to the camera only!)
This thing can only read TXT and INI files (a curious combinaton) by default. So the .ini files that might be generated in your album folders will therefore be readable and show up when browsing the e-books section, which is of a mild annoyance to a pedant like me.
(Note: Again, the refresh rate being picked up by the camera is apparent here in this photo. In real life, the screen is without those vertical lines – it is clear.)
All in all, this little player certainly doesn’t fail to make an impression. It looks good, has great video playback quality and isn’t particularly heavy. It does, however, have a few very minor quirks which can irk. For starters, navigating the interface takes practice to get used to – what’s new? you say – but perhaps more so than usual because of button placement. It can’t be operated easily with just one hand and requires permanent PSP-like grip if you actually want to do anything with it. Another is that when playing an audio file, if you exit the audio file menu and enter the desktop of the player – so to speak – there is no display for song playing nor any control to stop the music. This is certainly no deal breaker, but such a feature isn’t new and really is a nice touch.
However, at the end, the Ainol V8000HDW is a good little player that does its job. It’s powerful and effective and, most importantly, won’t break the bank.