They couldn't have made them any smaller. The orange colour comes courtesy of a filter stuck over the blue/green VFD. It comes off easily enough and once removed you can actually read it under normal lighting.
I have had a further play with this (excuse the pun) and have found the following (times approximate):
When play first pressed only 'Play' appears for 3 seconds then 'Play HH:MM' is displayed.
When changing from play to pause or pause to play there is a delay of either 1 second or 8 seconds.
I tried rebooting then updating the redring settings and rebooting but neither had any effect.
I enabled debugging but not debug vfd and ran through the sequence again.
Is this a timing/polling issue ?
That's expected and if you enable the VFD debug and watch the log you'll see why : ) redring can only react and update the display when the time scrolls past which can take a few seconds depending on the length of the programme or channel name.