If you are running Windows on your Vaio P there are many options for videoplayers out there. I've tried Windows Media Player (WMP) 11, 12, Windows Media Player Classic Home Cinema, Fast Player and VLC Media Player. You can make all of these players play 720p movies on your Vaio P but for this tutorial I will stick to VLC, since it's new codecs are ace (v.1.1.5). If you decide to go for one of the other players I recommend using ffdshow filters so you can play all formats out there. The tweaks applied to VLC can also be applied to ffdshow.
First install VLC. It has its own codecs so no need to download anything else from the internet. Let's start tweaking:
- Turn off the controller in fullscreen. I never use it (you can use CTRL+right arrow to skip forwards and SPACE to play/pause). The reason you would want to turn it off is because any mouse movement during playback will cause the video to stutter. To turn it off go to Tools > Preferences and uncheck "Show controls in full screen mode".
- Change output from Default to DirectX (DirectDraw). The default output is DirectX 3D. DirectX 3D will give you a smoother picture, but if you prefer a high framerate you should use DirectX. To change the output to DirectX go to Tools > Preferences and click on the Video-tab. In the dropdown list choose: "DirectX (DirectDraw) video output".
- Change settings for ffmpeg audio/video decoder. Here you will find the most influential settings that will affect video performance. Go to Tools > Preferences and click "All" under Show settings. This will bring up the advanced settings. Now go to Input/Codecs > Video codecs > FFmpeg in the left pane. Here you can turn off error resilience and warkaround bugs. I've checked "Hurry up" and "Allow speed tricks". The most important setting is to skip the loop filter for H.264 decoding. In the dropdown list choose: "All". This loop filter is a deblocking filter that normally applies smoothing to the picture. But let's focus on performance rather than quality.
- Don't check "Use GPU acceleration (experimental)". This will somehow turn skintones into blue colours which looks really bad (unless you're into Avatarasing all your movies). Update1: actually checking "Hardware decoding" might work with VLC 1.1.11 and the newest driver (Intel GMA 500 driver 126.96.36.1990). BUT you definitely have to uncheck "Use hardware YUV->RGB conversions" under "Video". Some movies encoded in mp4-format will stutter and wmv-format videos will turn into LSD-heaven.
This ought to do it. Now you should be able to watch 720p movies on your Vaio P! :D