Epson’s P5000 viewer provides a compact high-capacity storage and multimedia-viewing system, which, like its forbear the P4000, combines excellent screen quality, plenty of storage space, ease of use and tough build quality.
And what you get is a tough little device that provides card format compatibility aplenty including SD/SDHC and Multimedia cards (up to 1GB restriction for the latter), CF Type I/II that, of course, includes Micro Drives. Use of an appropriate adapter means other card formats can be used as well, but these are optional extras of course.
You get some excellent video and audio capabilities (see below) and an excellent LCD screen, a speedy 80-gigabytes of hard drive storage and a rechargeable Li-On battery pack for excellent long life reviewing while on the move.
Connectivity is dealt with by a high-speed USB 2.0 connection, enabling storage and image/video organisation capabilities for both Macs and PC computer platforms. Actually, using the P5000 is intuitive and you can very quickly get to grips with the system.
The two USB ports provide a connection for PC or camera (the “Host” port) while the second is for use with a PictBridge printer or, say, another external storage device, which means you could back up the P5000 onto another external hard drive for example. Nothing like being belt and braces, I suppose but it does seem rather odd. However, it does mean you could swap video files with, say, a Sony PSP or similar, which may be attractive to some.
The viewer is easy to hold and a large jog-style button and central OK button do most of the chores via your right thumb. Two memory card slots a placed atop the device for ease of access and you get a headphone socket up there too. The CF card port has a small eject button to push out cards once you’re done whereas, for SD/MMC cards insertion and or removal a simple push down on a SD card clicks it home and another push, when you're done pops it out with the assistance of a small spring mechanism.
The left side of the P5000 houses the connectivity ports under rubberised flaps and there's an AV out socket, dual USB 2.0 ports a mains port and a rest button. Finally, a speaker is located on the base of the P5000 but be warned, it’s pretty muffled so headphones are a must for, say, movie watching for example.
The standout feature however must be the excellent quality of the P5000’s screen, which uses Epson Photo Fine Ultra screen technology, a technology that uses “the world’s first 4-colour filter system”. In other words rather than just an RGB display filter array it has a red, yellow green, blue and an additional emerald green filter providing a 16.77-million colours from its 640 x 480-resoltuion R-YG-B-EG dots. And the quality is very impressive with the boosted colour gamut the additional colour filter providing stunning clarity and colour.
In terms of supported media formats, it looks impressive offering both JPEG and RAW support but with the caveat, you’ll need to check support for your camera here: /www.epson.co.uk/products/digital_cameras/product_spec/P5000.htm.
Disappointingly, there’s no TIFF file support, however, you do get comprehensive video format compatibility with AVC, MPEG, Windows Media, Motion JPEG, H.264 and DivX all being catered for. In terms of audio compatibility, there is compatibility for AAC and MP3 formats and you get Windows audio support as well.
In terms of write speeds the P5000 seems okay but is definitely slower, than, say a PC doing similar tasks and this may be an issue given the P5000’s price, which is as high if not higher than a fairly basic laptop, which may be a key consideration since a laptop will almost certainly provide a larger screen and bigger hard drive but, of course, lack the P5000’s portability.
In terms of software the P5000 comes with a pre-loaded with executable files on-board that provide the devices file transfer capabilities but not a lot else. Supported operating systems include Windows 2000 Pro, XP Pro, XP Home and Mac OS 10.2 or later.
On-board operations are handled by the equally brief system software that provides an interface best described as utilitarian, lacking any bells and whistles. You get text-based menus for View Rated Files, My Music, My Videos, My Photos, Memory Card, Backup Files, Settings, and USB Devices.
Selection are displayed as simple folders for ease of navigation while videos, for examples are displayed as thumbs which can be highlighted and hitting the “OK” button will open the image of video file and the memory card options allows you to browse an inserted memory card. All very simple then.
Overall, then, the P5000 is much like the P4000 before but with a larger screen, but yet again, Epson missed the opportunity to give the device a widescreen screen. As for the menus, yes they’re easy to understand and use but as with the P4000 a trick was missed to help stop all the tooing and froing needed for, say, creating a homepage shortcut to an album of images you want to set up on the device.
The P5000 is pricey but provides great scope for storage on the move or video watching or listing to MP3s.
It is easy to use though and much more portable than a laptop; but it’s the excellent screen that is a real standout feature, even if it isn’t a widescreen, um, screen!