Pixel Magic HD Mediabox Media Player - AVS Forum
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post #1 of 150 Old 01-04-2006, 07:51 AM - Thread Starter
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Pixel Magic - HD Mediabox:

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HD MediaBoxâ„¢ is a high definition HDD (hard disk drive) media player which gives instant access to all your high definition video, digital music, digital photos and DVD files no matter where they are stored - on it's internal hard disk drive (HDD), on your personal computer, USB HDD or Network Attached Storage box.

HD MediaBoxâ„¢ supports resolutions of up to 1080p so you can now set all your HD media free from the constraints of your monitor. Use any VGA, component video, DVI or HDMI equipped display device - Flat panel displays, projectors, HDTVs and more.

HD MediaBox™ is designed with high quality audio playback in mind. Equipped with 24-bit/192KHz audio DAC from Analog Devices Inc, low noise Op Amps from Burr-Brown® (famous for their clean output and ultra-low distortion characteristics) and our own specially developed timing circuitry, the HD MediaBox™ can now be the centre of your hifi as a high end CD jukebox storing thousands of CDs!

The Audiophile Edition (MB200) adds a low jitter TCXO (temperature compensated crystal oscillator) to dramatically improve spaciousness, clarity, impact, and purity, providing the highest quality audio playback available in any network media player.

Digital optical, coax, and analogue connectors are all provided to deliver this high fidelity audio into any home theater or stereo system.

For movies, tv shows, camcorder footage and more, HD MediaBoxâ„¢ supports all the most popular formats including MPEG 1/2/4, WMV9, DivXâ„¢ and XviD, as well as DVD .ISO and .VOB files. Output everything through the digital HDMIâ„¢ connection and you can go digital all the way to your screen!

Included with HD MediaBoxâ„¢ is a backlit remote so you can keep the lights low. Combine this with the small size and fanless operation and you get a high powered box that's also easy to live with.
http://www.pixelmagicsystems.com/pro...d_mediabox.htm
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post #2 of 150 Old 01-04-2006, 07:55 AM
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I may replace M5000 when MB200 available.

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post #3 of 150 Old 01-04-2006, 09:45 AM
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Wow! Now this is more like it. HDMI, VGA out, network connection. Stated support for dvd iso images and working with NAS devices.

reading some of the forum posts:
It runs a samba client so connection to any linux box would be simple. 64MB of memory, can 19.6Mbit/s TS files across the network
Available Around Feb. 2006.

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post #4 of 150 Old 01-04-2006, 10:07 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MikeAlletto
reading some of the forum posts:
It runs a samba client so connection to any linux box would be simple. 64MB of memory, can 19.6Mbit/s TS files across the network
Available Around Feb. 2006.
And from the forum, will be priced at $3-400 ("$3xx").

I'm sold at $300 if it does all it says it does.
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post #5 of 150 Old 01-04-2006, 10:27 AM
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This one seems to have some real promise.

Here's hoping the interface is 'good-enough'.

One of you early adopters needs to post a review ASAP.
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post #6 of 150 Old 01-05-2006, 10:58 AM
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No component out ?
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post #7 of 150 Old 01-05-2006, 10:59 AM
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It provides a VGA-Component breakout cable.
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post #8 of 150 Old 01-05-2006, 01:49 PM
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Please also work as a NAS, please also work as a NAS, please also work as a NAS.
Please support UPnP, please support UPnP, please support UPnP.

/me hearts the audiophile slant. <3 <3

kids gotta dream right?
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post #9 of 150 Old 01-05-2006, 01:51 PM
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Oh, and no wireless either, a bumber. More and more it looks like I need a two box solution; a nice mediabox and a wireless router running linux to stream the usb2.0 connection into ethernet and wireless. That leaves me just needing a box which has UPnP. UPnP and I can control it like I want to. Haza.
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post #10 of 150 Old 01-05-2006, 05:40 PM
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Sorry, both MB100/MB200 can't work as NAS.
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post #11 of 150 Old 01-05-2006, 06:26 PM
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Waiting for my email notification from their forum. . .

Anyone know if it will play a DVD in a USB attached DVD drive? Or mount one from a PC drive?
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post #12 of 150 Old 01-05-2006, 08:23 PM
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/me is just going to have to wait for someone smart enough to make a reasonably hackable media player
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post #13 of 150 Old 01-07-2006, 11:53 PM
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I was considering the TvIX but i think I the Pixel Magic will be the best. I have a few questions of HD and dvd's. What is the new HD-DVD format? Do I need an HD dvd player to see dvd's in HD? Is hd 1080i or 1080p?

If I rip a dvd to ISO and then stream it to pixel magic will pixel magic up convert it to 1080i/p (my tv will support it)?
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post #14 of 150 Old 01-08-2006, 08:57 PM
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Quote:
What is the new HD-DVD format?
Go do some searches in the hd area or google, there is a ton of info.

Quote:
Do I need an HD dvd player to see dvd's in HD?
yes.

Quote:
Is hd 1080i or 1080p?
yes.

Quote:
If I rip a dvd to ISO and then stream it to pixel magic will pixel magic up convert it to 1080i/p (my tv will support it)?
According to its specs yeah, but its not out yet so who knows.

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post #15 of 150 Old 01-08-2006, 09:00 PM
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I think this looks very promising. There is a forum dedicated to this product on Pixel Magic's site with lots of good info already (sorry, I don't have the link), but no user manual yet (they say early-February).

It sounds like they really paid attention to audio.

The fact it has ethernet with built-in client is a big plus. All I need now is an interface screen in my media room and I'm all set. It even has a remote.

Going from memory here, but I know I'm very close: US$ MSRP (minus harddrive):

MB100 - $330

MB200 - $420 (audiophile version with a special system clock)

Yep, I'll be watching this one very closely.
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post #16 of 150 Old 01-09-2006, 08:28 AM
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Does anyone have a quick comparison of this box to the yet to be released Mediagate 350HD? Thanks
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post #17 of 150 Old 01-09-2006, 08:51 AM
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Here's the link of Pixel Magic Forum for HD Mediabox (Models: MB100 and MB200)

http://www.pixelmagicforum.com/forum...splay.php?f=17
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post #18 of 150 Old 01-11-2006, 12:23 PM
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I posted this on the pixel magic website and got a response that I found a little shocking. They actually believe their product will be successful without a working UI. They plan on shipping their product with a simple "file browse" method, including UNC path and directory structure. No sorting, searching, cover art etc. I'm going to do my best to help these guys understand what we want. It will be up to them to cast their own fate. I see the Pixel Magic Mediabox and the TVIX HD M-5000U as the two front runners in this game with HD capabilities, so I'm concentrating my efforts on them.

----- Original post on pixel magic message board ------

I, like many others have been waiting with great excitement as this new generation of media players comes to market. I am here at the Pixel Magic site because I just decided that the Tivx HD M-5000U device which is due to ship soon has missed it's mark like so many other products in it's class (because of a poor UI)

I want to make a point here that the UI (User Interface), is probably just as important as what the device is capable of doing. We have a thing in the US (and probably everywhere else), called WAF (Wife Acceptance Factor), which means if the user interface is not good, then it will never make it into our entertainment rack. What this means is, if you are planning on giving menu's with long ugly file names, and file directory structures by which to browse our content, then your product will never gain traction. My wife like's Tivo, it's easy enough to understand, she (and I, and my kids), do not like file directory structures with files with names like VIDEO_TS.IFO etc... Look at Windows media center. Movies appear with Artwork in scrollable, searchable lists. What MCE lacks is the ability to play the kind of content that we really want (ISO's stored on a PC or NAS), lots of them!!! Hundreds or maybe even a thousand. Yes, that big! And with a collection that big, you need a way to display and search, and (wait for it), have a way to access a movie by number from a remote, or device that will catalog and send IR commands to a your box to start a specific movie.

Here's what I would really like to see:

Ability to access hundreds of stored ISO's on a very large array (2-4 terabyte in size). (it's cheaper that you think!!!)

Ability to display the titles with DVD artwork on screen (like MCE), and to be able to search or filter (like MCE)

Ability to access any movie by number so I we decide to build an index of the titles in a super-remote control, or PC application that will send IR, so it can be displayed on a touchscreen or web-tablet or smart display.

This over and away is more important that stuffing Hard drives into the unit, connecting USB drives, Hub mode client mode blah blah. None of it matters if the UI is not first class. Remember, if you can't easily access a large quantity of content easily, than the product will not be successful.

I have a pile of network connected MP3's players that will never be used because of the horrible user interface capabilities, especially once you go over a couple dozen songs. Just simply not usable.

I read in another post here a user saying basically the same thing about a good UI. I can only agree. I have abondoned more products (linkplayer, mediagate, dlink product, tvix, and a bunch more just because they plan on displaying content as a filename. It's just not gonna fly except for those who think that's "just good enough".

As far as I'm concerned, add $200.00 bucks to the cost and give me a first class UI. That I'll go for!

So now I've said my peace, hopefully I'm not alone in wanting this product to actually serve up content, AND do it in a way that people can actually use.

Comments are greatly appreciated.

Regards,

Roveer

PS. I decided to buy an xbox and plan to mod it and put xbmc on it because I've seen the UI and it looks pretty good. Limitations are NO HD, but I only have one HD TV and very little HD content. Do I want to buy game consoles and modify them to be media players? NO, but if that's the only way to go for now, than I'll take it. Oh, the xbox cost me 149 bucks and xbmc is free.
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post #19 of 150 Old 01-11-2006, 12:40 PM
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I saw pixel magics response to your's and my posts about user interfaces and was more than a little shocked as well. I refuse to buy it if all it has is basically a file browser front end.

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post #20 of 150 Old 01-11-2006, 01:38 PM
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I'm sorry, but I don't agree with you.
In their post they said they are focussing on core functionality i.e. making sure that the device can actually play video etc.
I think this is the most important functionality for them to deliver; if the box has a wonderful front-end, but is not able to play the files correctly then its no good.
They plan on releasing this box next month, and the UI that you were looking for would definitely push this date by months.
I know you're suggesting you'd prefer to wait, but I personally would rather have it sooner than later.

As it happens, I agree with a lot of your UI suggestions, and a box with that type of interface would be great, theres far too many file-focussed devices out there.
But Pixel Magic did not dismiss your suggestions, they just said they're not going to do it for release 1.0
You can always wait a few months and see what changes they make in later firmwares, and if it moves closer to what you want, you can buy it then.
You can always suggest ways to change/improve the UI (as you have) in their wishlist post. Pixel Magic are a company that will actually listen to suggestions (not the same as always doing it, but theres too may companies out there who do what they want to do, not what their customers want, and don't care what their customers say).
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post #21 of 150 Old 01-11-2006, 02:28 PM
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The front end is just as important as the back end and the device should not be shipped until both are finished. Why release a product that is only half done? It will ruin peoples impression of the product. If there was any proof that they were actually going to do a good interface after they release the product then I would be more comfortable in buying it upon release, but I'm not about to spend $300+ on a product that is not complete. By not having people buy their product they will be even less eager to finish it.

Quote:
You can always suggest ways to change/improve the UI (as you have) in their wishlist post. Pixel Magic are a company that will actually listen to suggestions (not the same as always doing it, but theres too may companies out there who do what they want to do, not what their customers want, and don't care what their customers say).
The customer is not always right, in fact most of the time the customer is flat out wrong and SHOULD be ignored. But a well thought out and powerful interface is just as important as a strong hardware backend. Both should have been planned out from the beginning to hit the release date.

I still have hope that they will do this right, but I won't be buying version 1.

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post #22 of 150 Old 01-11-2006, 03:07 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MikeAlletto
The front end is just as important as the back end and the device should not be shipped until both are finished. Why release a product that is only half done?
I think this would make an interesting thead all by itself! :)
The product itself is quite complicated, it supports many different file formats, it has different output resolutions, different connections at the back etc.
You could argue that someone you could set that up has probably/definitely used a computer before, and so are quite capable of coping with a file based approach.
Where it fails is of course in the WAF category and general user-friendliness. These are where the UI suggestions made are great.
However, due to the complexity of the system, there are bound to be some inital 'hiccups' - to be honest the HDMI interface may provide this all by itself. If you have more techie oriented customers using it in the first few months you can iron out these bugs - its an unfortunate truth that you really need 'real world' environment to properly test a system like this.
You could argue that ifs it too user-friendly then less technical capable people may buy it, and trying to provide support to these people at the early stages may be too cost-intensive (when there are possibly known issues with the box).

And ultimately I still think its more important to have the basics right before focussing on the UI, on this point I think we'll have to agree to disagree.


Quote:
Originally Posted by MikeAlletto
It will ruin peoples impression of the product.
Having an 'ok' interface may disappoint them (and maybe some will send it back). Not being able to play their files will definitely cause people to send it back.

Quote:
Originally Posted by MikeAlletto
but I'm not about to spend $300+ on a product that is not complete.
Fair enough, its your money.

Quote:
Originally Posted by MikeAlletto
By not having people buy their product they will be even less eager to finish it.
I don't get you here. You're saying if people don't buy it, then they won't develop the UI? Perhaps, but what happens if they spend another 6 months (with the product not on the market) and they develop a great UI and it still doesn't sell.
Just having a great product doesn't mean it'll sell. But I think people will buy the Mediabox next month, and I think Pixel Magic will continue to work on it.


Quote:
Originally Posted by MikeAlletto
The customer is not always right, in fact most of the time the customer is flat out wrong and SHOULD be ignored.
Wow. I get to read many suggestions made to my company by our customers. Some are not feasible, some you get to smile at (be cheaper!), but there are many interesting suggestions - I definitely would not agree with your views, and my customers are the 'general public'. Customers of the Mediabox are a smaller subset, many of whom will have seen/used competitor products, many of their ideas will be good ideas. I think the UI suggestions by Roveer are good, are you saying that thats just a lucky fluke that a good suggestion was made?

Quote:
Originally Posted by MikeAlletto
But a well thought out and powerful interface is just as important as a strong hardware backend. Both should have been planned out from the beginning to hit the release date.
I think you're underestimating the effort involved in developing the UI as proposed, for example reading the tags from music files. You could say theres existing libraries for doing this. Yes, there are. But many are focussed on reading ID3 tags from MP3 files. What about other files types like WMA - completely different code required there. Any many of the existing solutions for reading tags are quite large (say half a megabyte just for ID3) - nothing to think about on a PC, big deal on a resource limited device like a media streaming box.
And then you have to consider the licensing in getting the code you want.
Not a small job. And thats even before you come up with a way of displaying, structuring the data etc.
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post #23 of 150 Old 01-11-2006, 04:45 PM
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I'm glad to see my posts have sparked such a spirited debate. After all, isn't this what this forum is all about.

Simply put, I have way too many products sitting in a heap in my office that were only half finished. Of course every product that sits in that heap the UI (or lack thereof) is what killed it in the end. If many are like me, and I believe they are, we can't spend our money on products that look more like our computers than a well developed set top box. It just can't be done.

I agree with soiaf on one point. Pixel Magic did not dismiss my post outright, and that's a good thing. I placed that post there after reading and realizing that they were one of the few companies who were actually opening discussing their product and accepting feedback. What did trouble me was the feeling I got that they would get to the UI once they started making money with the product. Well, again, I will reference my heap of stuff that never made it that far. What these innovative "box shops" need to understand is that they will never make it beyond a few thousand sales and a lot of wasted trade show money if they don't come out of the gates with a real blockbuster. I'm sure they been breaking butt for a real long time to get their product ready for distribution, but it won't make a hill of beans if it doesn't hit home with the reviewers and buyers, which is where I agree with MikeAlletto in that we just won't buy it if it's in the form that they say they will ship it in.

As a manger in that company when told by the marketing department that our product isn't selling because the UI isn't good enought, and the technical department telling them how many hours it will take to make a good UI (assuming they have a good enough base of a product to actually do some of that), and factoring in the sales reports and senior management looking at them like "you told us this product was going to be a hit", it would make sense to spend the time / money before hand rather than after a dissapointing launch and perceived failure. Management 101 stuff here. But they will do what they do and it will be what it will be, but I aint putting any unc paths on my TV!!!

Let the debate continue

Oh, let's invite Pixel Magic and DVICO/Tvix to read this thread so they can all learn a bit.

Roveer
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post #24 of 150 Old 01-12-2006, 07:02 AM
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Quote:
I think this would make an interesting thead all by itself!
Absolutely!

Quote:
I think the UI suggestions by Roveer are good, are you saying that thats just a lucky fluke that a good suggestion was made?
Nope, not at all, I think his suggestions are excellent. All I'm saying is that most of the time the customer really doesn't understand the product and its capabilities. Therefore they offer suggestions (well not really offer, but demand) that will never work or don't have anything to do with the product. I see it almost everyday. Yes, in some cases its good to listen to what your customers are saying, but in a lot of cases the customer just doesn't get it.

Quote:
I think you're underestimating the effort involved in developing the UI as proposed, for example reading the tags from music files. You could say theres existing libraries for doing this. Yes, there are. But many are focussed on reading ID3 tags from MP3 files. What about other files types like WMA - completely different code required there. Any many of the existing solutions for reading tags are quite large (say half a megabyte just for ID3) - nothing to think about on a PC, big deal on a resource limited device like a media streaming box.
And then you have to consider the licensing in getting the code you want.
Not a small job. And thats even before you come up with a way of displaying, structuring the data etc.
Its definitely not easy, but its absolutely not an enormous back breaking task. Which is why I suggest having a pc server side application running that sends data to the hardware box for display. Make it opensource (write it in perl or something) and people will add to it and make it better. Or add on to the hardware allowing an internal compact flash card to be installed that can hold the data for the software. Space for these things is not the problem, the problem is getting someone to actually sit down and come up with a good interface. All the elements to make it great exist out there scattered in a million pieces. Still waiting for the day when a company steps forward and combines them all into one complete package (no mythtv and its variants does not do it).

In my mind the hardware should do basically 3 things. Decoding a video and/or audio stream, present the data on a screen and/or speakers, and communicate with a server side application. Make the hardware as simple as possible, push the complexity off to software on a pc. Folks then complain about having their pc on 24/7. This is not a valid complaint in this day and age of folks having multiple pc's in the home. This also makes it much easier to apply interface and processing upgrades and bug fixes.

I'm a techie and I want a cool interface. Not just for the ease of use, but for the coolness factor. I want to be able to show my friends a great product and how excellent its interface is. That will fuel sales even more. It starts us thinking about how they made it work and how to make it better. If all it is is a file browser that lets you view all or limit based on media type then thats simple. We will all look at it and go "eh...why should I spend $300+ to have windows explorer on my tv screen?" I would suspect that they are doing it this way because thats all everyone else is doing. They probably figure that others have sold a few thousand units that way so why not them. I believe the forum post when he said they will look at the interface after version one. That is probably what he was told to say. I don't believe that they will actually do anything except a file browser. I hope i'm wrong, but based on past companies products and the fact that all of their interfaces basically look the same I will probably be right. No one wants to take the money to innovate because there really isn't any competition.

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post #25 of 150 Old 01-12-2006, 07:49 AM
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I'm with you on everything except the middleware server app. Don't want it.

IMHO, A box with it's own hdd should not need that - ever.

XBMC pulls content from a 'passive' NAS. Maintains the media 'library' if you wish it to. All without the benefit of a streaming server app.
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post #26 of 150 Old 01-12-2006, 08:21 AM
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Does the XBMC require a HD on the xbox in order to maintain the media information? I wouldn't have a problem installing a HD in the pixel magic device if they want to use that for software storage and config and library info, but I don't want to have the internal HD used for media storage.

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post #27 of 150 Old 01-12-2006, 08:46 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MikeAlletto
Does the XBMC require a HD on the xbox in order to maintain the media information?
Well yeah. But remember the xbox comes with a 6-8 giger from MS. People put big honking drives in there to host the actual media.

The music & video databases are created when you access new folders. And are stored locally on the hdd.

If what you want is a true thin client, then I suppose a server app on a remote machine is a requirement for large libraries.
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post #28 of 150 Old 01-19-2006, 10:59 AM
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I've been keeping an eye on this one. These are notes to myself, but might make a good basis for a FAQ or list of features...

http://www.pixelmagicsystems.com/pro...d_mediabox.htm
http://www.pixelmagicforum.com/forum...play.php?&f=17
  • $330 MSRP
  • expected in US Feb 2006
  • play files from internal HDD (not required, not included), on networked PC, or NAS
  • HDMI
  • YPbPr component with HD15 "VGA" breakout cable
  • 480p, 576p, 720p, 1080i, 1080p, VGA (640x480), SVGA (800x600), XGA (1024x768), SXGA (1280×1024), 1366x768, 1280x768
  • MPEG 1/2/4, WMV9, DivXâ„¢ and XviD, as well as DVD .ISO and .VOB files
  • HD transport streams (.ts)
  • .iso file and .ifo file (with .vob files) as if it is playing a DVD disc, i.e. all menu structure/subtitle or audio selection is maintained.
  • backlit remote
  • Aluminum alloy cooling, no fan
  • main chipset is Sigma Designs EM8621L

http://www.pixelmagicsystems.com/ima...el_diagram.gif


I need to sign up on the pixelmagic forum...

Q1) custom resolutions or refresh rates? (like Momitsu) 960? @72Hz?

Q2) 1080i -> 1080p deinterlacing method?
A: Deinterlacing/scaling is based on Sigma Designs. It is good enough for average users but don't expect it is as good as DCDi, VXP, HQV etc(link)

Q3) Can mediabox easily recognize files on an external USB2 NTFS drive (non-networked and not NAS)? (my Snazio only supports FAT, which is limited to 4Gb files and 30Gb partitions; an update supposedly enables NTFS, but it is technically unsupported)

Q4) DRM for WMV?

Q5) 5.1 audio decoding for WMV or toslink pass-through only?

Q6) How is FF/Rew on .ts files?

Q7) UPNP?

The player doesn't come with an IDE HDD, I'm sure it's fairly easy to install... I do it regularly with external USB2 cases.

Q8) But can MediaBox use an IDE NTFS drive with existing content without needing any special initialization or formatting? Can I swap in/out additional drives when the first one fills up? Is the setup info (IP and preferred resolution settings, etc) stored on the HDD or in the MediaBox internal memory?

Products with related features (Related AVS thread: link):
- TVIX HD M-5000 (link) (no 1080p)
- SnaZio Net Cinema DVD HD (no 1080p, adds 1280x1024, adds wireless for SD) (link)
- JVC ProHD SRDVD-100U (no 1080p, no 1280x1024, USB2 HDD is FAT32 only) (link)
- Xbox 360 with MCE
- AVeL LinkPlayer 2 (link)
- Momitsu V880N (no .ts playback, but supports custom resolutions and refresh rates)
- Buffalo LinkTheater (link)
- D-Link DSM-520 (link)
- KiSS DP-600 (link)
- Pinnacle Showcenter 200 (link)
- Roku PhotoBridge HD (link)


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post #29 of 150 Old 01-19-2006, 12:38 PM
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I don't have much experience in this area, but I like the sound of this box. However, reading the official forum (I can't post URLs!) , the maximum DivX resolution is "720p and 1080i".

What I'm looking for is a good player with an internal harddrive, and an easy way to send content from my PC to the harddrive, using wireless networking (I have a Linksys WRK54g router). This device looks like it won't have builtin wireless support, and anyway, the internal drive can only be written to through the USB port. Looks like I'm out of luck. Or does somebody else see a way? I can't believe there isn't a solution out ther esomewhere...
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post #30 of 150 Old 01-19-2006, 01:04 PM
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More notes to myself. I need to sign up on the pixelmagic forum...

The player doesn't come with an IDE HDD, I'm sure it's fairly easy to install... I do it regularly with external USB2 cases.

Q8) But can MediaBox use an IDE NTFS drive with existing content without needing any special initialization or formatting? Can I swap in/out additional drives when the first one fills up? Is the setup info (IP and preferred resolution settings, etc) stored on the HDD or in the MediaBox internal memory?


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