I just received my Cinematube Friday and I had a little time to try a few things last night and today. So my first post on AVS is going to be sort of a mini-review of a few things that worked, problems that need to be fixed, and some things that need to be addressed. First of all I have a Linksys and an Asus Wireless-G router. I'm still using an old 4:3 tube TV so bandwidth is not a problem.
Last night I tried playing movies off a USB memory stick and I didn't have any problems. What I did notice is that the video and audio were better than I was expecting from the highly compressed video files that I tried. Today, I received an AirLink 101 Wi-Fi dongle that someone had mentioned that worked. When I turned on the Cinematube it indicated that a Wi-Fi dongle was plugged in. I'm not sure if the exclamation before the message meant anything, but I probably need to see if the manual says something about it. I went to the setup screen and it saw my network and some of the neighbor's networks. I tried to connect to my network and it asked for the security key which I entered and I waited for about a minute before it finally timed out and did not connect. I tried the Asus wireless router with the same results. I then plugged the AirLink dongle into a computer running Vista and it had no problem connecting to either router. I'm guessing that this is probably a driver problem in the Cinematube since I'm using an unsupported dongle. Of course this leaves me with a lot of questions. What if the dongle that Cinematube is going to release at the end of this month also has the same results when trying to connect to an 802.11g wireless router? Is it possible that the Cinematube is only going to work with 802.11n routers and only certain brands? I guess I won't know this until I purchase the official Wi-Fi dongle, but I'm going to be upset if it does the same thing as the AirLink 101.
I already had DD-WRT software in my Asus 802.11g router so I set it up as a bridge. I plugged the Cinematube into it and it did not have any problems connecting to my network which is using a Linksys wireless router. The Cinematube saw both my network running on a Vista machine and it saw the PlayOn server that I had downloaded and installed to tryout. I tried streaming from my network and I had no problem playing videos or photos in shared folders using the Asus router running as a wireless bridge. I tried using PlayOn to connect to YouTube and it also worked OK. I did note a problem with scrolling through the video selections with the preview on. For whatever reason, the Cinematube wants to try and load every video when scrolling through the list. When you first go to a folder selection, you can scroll fairly fast. However, after a few seconds the Cinematube decides to start wanting to preview each selection. This needs to be fixed. Scrolling up and down should stop trying to preview a selection and move to the next item.
Now for the BIG problem when streaming using PlayOn. YouTube worked fine, but YouTube was also originally planned to be included in the Cinematube. I tried streaming from Hulu and got the message Format is not supported. I tried several different videos from Hulu and nothing worked. I then tried CBS, CNN and ESPN and they didn't work either. They all gave the same error message that the format was not supported. While I was waiting for my Cinematube to be delivered, I had already downloaded XBMC Media Center and I knew all this was working through uPnP. I don't have a Netflix account, and I didn't try Amazon VOD, but I don't have much faith that they are going to work since nothing else worked. I did try streaming music and video through PlayOn and it worked. I had some videos that I had captured from my Sony DV camcorder and they all played fine over Wi-Fi through PlayOn.
One final thought which is regarding the user interface. I knew it wasn't going to be very good, but it was a little worse than I was expecting. I was expecting the menus along the top that say All, Videos, Music and Photos to do more than just filter the files. Those selections are worthless since I can't imagine that there are too many people that store all media types in the same folder. Why can't the Cinematube at least remember what folder I was in when I was playing each media type? I know my wife is going to have a major problem using the Cinematube. Just my opinion, but I think Brite-View needs to make it a top priority to make some changes to the user interface or a lot of non-techie people will be turned off using the Cinematube.