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While Blu-ray or HD DVD high definition players make the most out of your HD-capable TVs, they still cost a lot of money. New Medium Enterprise’s Versatile Multilayer Disc (VMD) format aims to provide that HD experience cheaper, but is that enough for the two big HD formats (HD DVD and Blu-ray) to take notice?


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An HD VMD Disc
According to NME, the new HD VMD format has a high storage capacity, fast data transfer rates, and will have a competitive pricing on both its players and movie titles. This new format from New Medium Enterprise (NME) is based on established red laser technology and claims to bring a visual quality that rivals both Blu-ray and HD DVD. The disc is able to store massive amounts of data because of its multi-layered semi reflected disc that allows up to 20 layers (compared to CDs/DVDs with a maximum to two layers) of recording.

The new NME ML 777S HD VMD player can play VMD discs, upscale DVDs to 1080p, supports existing optical disc formats such as CDs and DVDs, and can be played in all HD-capable displays, but how does this new player fare in terms of its performance?

The ML 777S looks like any other DVD player in the market, thanks to its small profile and jet black finish. The control buttons (Power, Eject, Play, Pause, Stop, Previous, Next) are present up front, and comes with a push-open cover that reveals a USB port and an SD/MMC/MS card reader. The rear of the unit hosts a Component output, Composite output, Coaxial output, Optical output, S-Video output, Audio (Subwoofer, Front, Surround) output, as well as an HDMI output.

 


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Performance:

The unit took a little more than 20 seconds to load, which is considerably faster than its HD DVD and Blu-Ray player counterparts. The main screen only has four options (Disc, USB, Card, Setup) to choose from, making everything from playing discs to accessing files in the connected USB drive straightforward.

We loaded the HD VMD demo disc and ran various clips from movies like Apocalypto, We Were Soldiers, and Lord of War to test its video resolution. The player ran smoothly and was able to display the clips in high definition (1080p) without any lag. Moreover, the video output and colour reproduction of the different clips were clear and vivid, giving us a pleasurable viewing experience overall. Upscaling was also not a problem for the HD VMD player as it was able to display our DVDs in 1080p.

The unit can also play movies files (MPEG-1, MPEG-2, MPEG-4, VC1, WMV9, or H.264), audio files (MPEG-1 Layer 1/2/3, AC3, WMA, or WAV), and photos (JPEG, BMP, PNG, or GIF) from external USB devices or memory cards with saved data, giving it added versatility and functionality.

 

Conclusion:

While the ML 777S is a great and promising product, we are finding it hard to recommend as of this moment in time. Sure, this technology gives the other existing HD formats a run for their money due to its affordability. However, users may find it hard to purchase a product that does not have enough backing from various film distributors – so a player without a lot off HD content to back it isn’t particularly useful. That said, the player is being pitched mainly to the Asian markets, so there is a fair range of Bollywood and Chinese movies.

Overall though, if you are looking for a unit that can upscale your DVDs, play digital files using your USB or memory card port, and as a bonus, give you high definition videos (albeit not a huge range at present, unless you have a penchant for Bollywood) at an affordable price, then take a look at NME’s ML 777S HD VMD player.

Product specifications:

AV Output

Video Output: Composite Video (RCA), S-Video (Y/C), Component Video (Y Pb Pr), HDMI, Support Progressive Scan
Audio Output: RCA x 2 Stereo, RCA x 6 Surround 5.1, Coaxial (RCAXA), Optical
Interface: USB 2.0, Card Reader

Media Format

Video Format: HD VMD, MPEG-1, MPEG-2, MPEG-4, VC1, WMV9, H.264
Audio Format: MPEG-1 Layer 1/2/3, AC3/MWA/WAV
Audio Digital / Surround Format: Dolby Digital, AC3 and Linear PCM at 16/20/24 bit with 32/44.1/48/96 KHz digital bit stream to SPDIF Coaxial and Optical output
Image Format: JPEG, BMP, PNG, GIF (still)
Disc Format: HD VMD DL Disc, HD VMD ML Disc, DVD, DVD-R/RW, DVD+R/RW, CD-RW, CD-R, VCD, CD, CD-DA

Resolutions

Video Resolution: 1080i/p (50/60 Hz), 720p, 576i/p, 480i/p
Upscaling: DVD video upscaling to 1080i/p

Other Specifications

Power Supply: AC 100V – 240V
Player Dimensions: 430 x 278 x 58 mm
Player Weight: 2.7kg

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NME ML 777S HD VMD Player | $349 (With 5 Bundled HD VMD Movies) |  | www.westan.com.au

For: Easy on-screen menu; USB and Card reader ports; DVD upscaling; Price point
Against: Limited VMD titles (as of this moment)
Conclusion: It is a good high definition player and DVD upscaler that has extra connectivity features. Just keep your fingers crossed that more film distributors will support this format in the future.

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