New Firmware, Better Score
Since this review hit the Web Viewsonic has sent me a couple of firmware updates, in the light of which I'd be inclined to up the score to, say, 80 per cent. I put this tentatively, because the firmware is still beta and not public, and it looks as if the changes it implements won't be publicly available until next month, or perhaps later.
The latest firmware revision removes my objection to the Web browser -- pages are no longer messed up and the navigation is smoother and definitely useable. And the BBC iPlayer now works, so for those with reasonable Internet bandwidth (>=2Mbps) it offers a very decent catch-up TV experience in the living room. I don't have any way of measuring the resolution, but it's probably not 720p, but subjectively it does seem to be a better picture than I get when visting the iPlayer on a PC.
By the way, the BBC iPlayer seems to be the element that's holding up Viewsonic's distribution of this firmware -- I understand they can't go public with it until the BBC signs it off.
The bad news is that the Samba problem isn't, as I suggested, a function of my password protection. It's been confirmed that a firmware bug is preventing Samba sharing on some network configurations, although I'm told that Viewsonic's boffins are working flat out to fix it. When the Samba issue is fixed I'd be happy to shift this rating up another 5 per cent.
Quxy (above) raises the spectre of the HiSense MP801H, and indeed it's the low street price of the currently available HiSense MP800H that has prevented me giving the VMP74 a higher score. But as far as I understand it, the MP801H isn't destined for Europe, and its RRP is unknown at the moment.
I haven't kicked the MP800H around myself, but it certainly seems worth a look, especially at less than half the price of the VMP75 (although that's comparing street price with RRP, of course). If you don't want the YouTube and other Internet functions, and you don't need the advanced audio features like DTS downmix and full Dolby Digital (no space to go into this in the review, but worth following up if you're a HiFi buff) the HiSense seems like a nice cheap option at fifty odd quid.
Danny 14 mentions wireless. I believe the VMP74 wll take a USB wireless dongle, although I haven't tested this.