Sonic Impact’s V55 is right up my alley as a convergence product, but for some reason I was skeptical about an iPod video player, thinking it was something of a tweener—slightly larger than a portable media player yet smaller than a portable DVD player. However,when I started to take a closer look at the design, build quality, and performance, I was quickly and wholeheartedly won over.
Open the V55’s black clamshell case and there’s an iPod-size cutout (for 5G models only) with volume and track control buttons to either side. The buttons are of the light-touch variety. Close the rubberized plastic case and the iPod is protected inside so you can use the V55 as a mini music system when you’re on the go; the battery lasts a substantial 4 to 5 hours. The remote is quite small,and just as I was picturing my oneyear old swallowing it, I noticed the spring-loaded “drawer” on the front edge of the player that it clicks into. Very clever. Nestled on the side of the unit are a headphone jack, USB port, and video input/output. Clearly, a lot of smart engineering went into the design of the V55.
The speakers built in to the ends of the clamshell hinge—one per side, each protected by a grille—did a surprisingly good job projecting sound. I still can’t get over how clear, full-bodied, and balanced these tiny speakers sounded, and how loud they were able to play. The V55 did a better job of filling my small media room with sound than some of the dedicated iPod speaker systems I’ve tested. At least some of the credit goes to the onboard Class D digital amp.
Of course, the main attraction here is the 7-inch screen with its 480x234 pixel resolution. To gauge video performance, I encoded everything from cartoons to sci-fi flicks to music videos in MPEG-4 format using a Neuros recorder on its Normal setting, which yielded compressed 6.6MB/min files (meaning a 2-hour movie would occupy a reasonable 800MB of space). Viewing angles were very good, and the videos looked nearly as sharp as a DVD played on a decent portable player.
The V55 may not be for everyone, but if you’re looking to share the videos stored on your iPod with a few friends, I can’t imagine a better way to go.