Features & Performance
Getting It All Started
Equipped with a 1GHz ARM processor, the Veolo took an unexpectedly long 56 seconds to power up to its home screen. This puts its start up time right in the middle of the pack for media players. While it sounds excruciatingly long, it's not really that bad if you consider how long it takes for a modern phone to start up. Still, we would certainly have preferred a speedier boot-up time like some old media players that have achieved it before.
Once the device becomes usable, the user interface shouldn't surprise anyone who has used an Android enabled device. The Veolo is running a slightly modified version of Android 2.2 (or Froyo for those familiar with its dessert monikers). Even for folks who have been using iOS as their mobile OS of choice, the Android interface will not prove that difficult to navigate once you get the hang of it.
Before exploring what the Veolo offered, we entered the settings menu first to see what could be tweaked or adjusted. The menu settings are what you will find on mobile phones running Android 2.2; you can tweak settings for audio, video, system settings, and network settings.
With Android as its interface, the Veolo allows for widgets and shortcuts to be placed on its home screen, similar to your Android mobile phone. Apps can be downloaded via Android Market, resulting in a highly-customizable interface that is unlike what you have come to expect with the boring or rigid interfaces found in earlier media players.
So what does this mean to you? Apps from the Android Market are all available to you, and you can enjoy them on your big TV screen. However, all this comes with a catch; it’s more difficult to navigate the interface due to the need to wave around your remote. Since your TV isn't a touchscreen and the device doesn't interface with the TV directly other than video output, there's really no other way to navigate a UI that was designed with touch usage in mind. It's a pity considering the interactive and fun aspects this media player brings to the table.
As we’ve mentioned in the previous section, the remote is basically a motion sensor, so you need to wave the remote in order move the mouse pointer that is onscreen. However, due to the lack of tactile feedback, it’s pretty difficult to determine the speed and distance you would have to wave the remote in order to move around the interface and make menu or app selections. And if you need to select a control with a particularly small onscreen button, this method of navigation may prove to be quite frustrating.
So while playing Angry Birds on a widescreen TV sounds appealing, in practice it is still better to stick with your mobile phone. The same advice applies to a lot of other apps. As such, the advantage of the Android OS on the big screen quickly dwindles away and you would be back to using the Veolo for its primary purpose - media playback.
Video Playback Performance
Despite the navigation limitations to enjoy the Android OS on the big screen, we noted the Veolo's advantage to access the Android Market allows you to download any other media-playback apps. This helps if the default player does not suit your taste or is unable to tackle certain content types (but this is fast becoming moot as the software is getting more mature). Do take note that we did our testing using the default media playback app as this is what most end-users would use if they do not want to spend time to scour for another media playback app.
As expected of the Veolo, media playback was smooth and we experienced no jitters when playing full HD video files. The files we tested ranged from 1080p AVI and MP4 files to 720p WMV files. None caused the Veolo any problems, and subtitles displayed no issues as well, with many options available for just tweaking subtitles alone. But one point to take note is that it was unable to tackle ISO files as they are in reality an image file, and not a video file. At the time of assessment, we've yet to come across an app that allows for the loading and playback of ISO image files.
Fast forwarding and skipping to various points in local content did not present a problem to the player; playback resumed almost instantly, though we have to warn readers that for streaming content, it boils down to how fast your connection is as well as how high the file's bit-rate is. Obviously high definition content like 720p or greater video files will stutter over Wi-Fi, so stick with a wired connection if you're planning on watching a fair bit of high definition or full HD content.