About the same size as a pocket radio of yesteryear,the GPDR40 manages to cram in a generous 40GB of storage capacity and a 3.6in 4:3 TFT LCD screen.
The GPDR40 looks a bit on the cheap 'n' tacky side, with its chrome-plated plastic buttons, but to be fair, the unit does a lot. It's equipped with a slot for MMC/SD memory cards, enabling you to view your pictures on its larger screen.
Other features include a calendar, file-browser, three simple games,an alarm clock, NTSC/PAL compatibility, voice-recorder and a simple recording-timer.
Most of these functions are accessed with a user interface that's not as intuitive as it could be.The controls on the unit turn off the screen for music-only listening and bring up menus related to the current function.There's also a volume control that doubles as a record button and a control panel lock-out.
Set-up functions include display brightness, switching between LCD and video output,TV standard (NTSC/PAL),language and card-formatting. There are two ways of getting video into the unit. The first is to use your PC,transferring files to the device via a (fast) USB 2.0 interface.Drivers for older operating systems like Windows 98 SE are also supplied on a CD-ROM. Unfortunately,the GPDR40 doesn't directly 'understand' formats like DiVX or XviD.One of the other programs on the CD-ROM is a 'PVR Console',the most important role of which is to convert content into a form that the GPDR40 is happy with.
The second way of capturing video is the 'AV Center',which invokes 'line-in' recording.There are three recording modes - HQ,SP,LP. HQ captures at 640 x 480,while the SP and LP modes both specify 320 x 240. In all cases,MPEG4 .ASF video is used.For self-recordings, Goodmans has plumped for (mono!) G.726/ADPCM audio, which doesn't sound as good as the DVX-Pod's (stereo) MP3.In terms of audio replay,the GPDR40 supports both MP3 and WAV.
Picture quality is fairly mediocre.The display has no black level to speak of,little detail and gaudy colours - the result is thus a somewhat unnatural presentation.There's no 'letterbox' mode for anamorphic widescreen material so stick to 'letterbox' sources.Thankfully,video looks better when the GPDR40 is connected to an external display.
Even in the HQ mode, the units own recordings are soft and exaggerated in colour saturation while the accompanying audio often distorts during 'peaks'. In fact, audio quality,generally, is nothing to write home about,with high-frequency instability affecting MP3 music playback in particular.
Then there's the reliability.The review unit frequently crashed and we had to hunt around for a toothpick - or something similar - to reset the unit.
The underlying concept may be an excellent one,but the GPDR40 tries to do too many things for too little money and it shows. Hopefully,many of these issues can be addressed via a firmware 'fix'.