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NMP shootout: TViX M-5000A vs. Pixel Magic Systems MB200?

post #1 of 14
Thread Starter 
I'm looking for opinions that will help me decide which NMP to get from the two choices in the Subject.

My setup: I've got a Sony KV-34XBR910 with DVI in, and both Component ins are currently taken up with my Sony SAT-HD300 STB and my old reliable Denon DVD-2800 Mk. II DVD player. I don't currently have any HDMI capabilities; either in my receiver or in my CRT display.

I've been borrowing a JVC/AVeL NMP from work (the JVC SRDVD-100U) for the last few days and it's whetted my apetite to buy an NMP for my own; but the thing has several issues that drive me crazy, notwithstanding the fact that it's downright amateurish compared to my wonderful Oppo OPDV971H player (now if only Oppo would take that puppy and turn into into an NMP ... ).

I've decided that I don't really want to try and stream HD content over any network so I've pretty much boiled down the choices to the TViX M-5000A vs. the Pixel Magic Systems MB200.

Digital Connection has the TViX for $121 less than they charge (list) for the MB200 - so the cost differential is definitely a factor.

My interest is mainly in playing
  1. Ripped DVDs (as ISOs, apparently)
  2. DivX HD content (have some lovely BBC HD programs ready to go in this format)
  3. HD MPEG-2 Transport Stream .ts files
  4. NFS support (I have a RAID1 setup on my Mac that I'd like to export to the NMP)
  5. Ability to download files into the internal disk drive (which I'll buy separately)
  6. Good quality playback of "regular" conventional DivX/XviD content.
(I assume both players can do all of the above?)

From where I sit, I see the following comparison-wise:
  • TViX has DVI and Component; PMS has HDMI and VGA; TViX is a better match for my current setup, but obviously HDMI would be better for the future.
  • Thought that only the PMS did 1080p, but the TViX added 1080p over DVI in firmware rev. 1.7.3 so that's a wash.
  • The TViX is listed as supporting Ogg Vorbis audio files (I have a few gigs of those, but this isn't vital) and, interestingly, Dolby Digital and DTS ("pass-through and downmix") which the "audiophile" MB200 doesn't support.
  • The PMS has a smaller/better (to me) form-factor and of course the MB200 model has undoubtedly much better audio than the TViX due to the Burr-Brown DACs and the "low jitter TXCO" - but is it worth $121 more?
Last but not least - there's the intangibles, and in particular, in this case there's a vibrant thread/community about the TViX here on AVS Forum (in this very sub-forum, obviously), whereas there seems to be none for the PMS. That seems very odd ... I have no idea why this is?!?

Any and all opinions welcome :-)
post #2 of 14
Quote:
Originally Posted by Riot Nrrrd View Post

I'm looking for opinions that will help me decide which NMP to get from the two choices in the Subject.

My setup: I've got a Sony KV-34XBR910 with DVI in, and both Component ins are currently taken up with my Sony SAT-HD300 STB and my old reliable Denon DVD-2800 Mk. II DVD player. I don't currently have any HDMI capabilities; either in my receiver or in my CRT display.

I've been borrowing a JVC/AVeL NMP from work (the JVC SRDVD-100U) for the last few days and it's whetted my apetite to buy an NMP for my own; but the thing has several issues that drive me crazy, notwithstanding the fact that it's downright amateurish compared to my wonderful Oppo OPDV971H player (now if only Oppo would take that puppy and turn into into an NMP ... ).

I've decided that I don't really want to try and stream HD content over any network so I've pretty much boiled down the choices to the TViX M-5000A vs. the Pixel Magic Systems MB200.

Digital Connection has the TViX for $121 less than they charge (list) for the MB200 - so the cost differential is definitely a factor.

My interest is mainly in playing
  1. Ripped DVDs (as ISOs, apparently)
  2. DivX HD content (have some lovely BBC HD programs ready to go in this format)
  3. HD MPEG-2 Transport Stream .ts files
  4. NFS support (I have a RAID1 setup on my Mac that I'd like to export to the NMP)
  5. Ability to download files into the internal disk drive (which I'll buy separately)
  6. Good quality playback of "regular" conventional DivX/XviD content.
(I assume both players can do all of the above?)

From where I sit, I see the following comparison-wise:
  • TViX has DVI and Component; PMS has HDMI and VGA; TViX is a better match for my current setup, but obviously HDMI would be better for the future.
  • Thought that only the PMS did 1080p, but the TViX added 1080p over DVI in firmware rev. 1.7.3 so that's a wash.
  • The TViX is listed as supporting Ogg Vorbis audio files (I have a few gigs of those, but this isn't vital) and, interestingly, Dolby Digital and DTS ("pass-through and downmix") which the "audiophile" MB200 doesn't support.
  • The PMS has a smaller/better (to me) form-factor and of course the MB200 model has undoubtedly much better audio than the TViX due to the Burr-Brown DACs and the "low jitter TXCO" - but is it worth $121 more?
Last but not least - there's the intangibles, and in particular, in this case there's a vibrant thread/community about the TViX here on AVS Forum (in this very sub-forum, obviously), whereas there seems to be none for the PMS. That seems very odd ... I have no idea why this is?!?

Any and all opinions welcome :-)


Well I bought the TVIX at the last minute - I was going to buy the Pixel Magic, two things about the TVIX won be over..

1> ability to transfer files over the network from the PC's shared storage to the TVIX internal drive.
2> excellent reviews of the TVIX on another forum where it is the editors choice, and described as "their jewel".

HOWEVER.

1. Is unusable due to the ridiculous slow speed of transfer, you might as well go and get the TVIX, connect it via USB, and transfer that way, which is what I wanted to avoid.

2. Like this forum, the Pixel Magic gets no coverage in other forum, yet having gone with the TVIX I have had many issues with it.

I will summarise these issues, but first I should say that my priorities sound different to yours, and it maybe that for what YOU want, the TVIX would be perfec, please accept that clarification.

Here are the issues I have with it:

Setting up the network side is a PITA, I couldn't get it to work at all until this forum helped, it certainly isn't plug and play. One limitation is that you can only network share one folder (albeit with limitless subfolders) from your networked PC. I used to have my music collection on one hard disk, and my video collection on another, not any more!

As a networkable audio player, it has problems mainly that you cannot search your content via Genre / Album Title, etc, only by the folders windows creates when you rip your CDs (which is basically artist name).

Also... you cannot browse your music collection while listening to something, because as soon as you take the browser out of the current folder, playback stops.

As a networkable photo playback device (a big reason I bought it). It is next to useless. Albeit, picture quality is stunning, so all those lovely holiday photos look fantastic, on my 40inch hi-def TV, however it is impossible to browse effectively for the picture you want due to one simple thing, lack of thumbnails in browser. On my recent holiday I took over 1000s photos, I have kind of sorted them in to different catagories in windows folders, but still each directory might hold several hundred. Try and find the one you want to show you mother in law! put simply... you can't.

As a networkable video player, I and many others in both forums are reporting Sparkles on the DVI output, it seems the DVI output is on the edge, fixes include trial and error with different DVI to HDMI cables, going through a switcher on the way to TV, or going analogue component / RGB. It has played back everything I have thrown at it so far though, and generally image quality is good...

Now, heres the rub, these things really have annoyed me, especially since an old $40 Linksys WMA11 did all the things I miss with pictures and audio (though had only composite and Y/C output). e.g. it displayed thumbnails for browsing photos, you could search music by genre/artist... and you could listen and browse simultaneously.

HOWEVER, I have no way of knowing if Pixel Magic or Helios, or Snazio or anything else has the same or different maddening frustrations, and of course my old Linksys does not support video at all, just photos and music. Still it was a darn site more user friendly and "usable".

DOes that help?
post #3 of 14
I should have added, on the subject of audio quality, the TViX is very very good. I have it connected digital to my Pioneer AX3 which in "Direct" mode passes the digits to a very good DA converter, and straight to power amp section with no DSP. It sounds very very nice. In such a case the quality of the on board DAC (burr brown or whatever) is not a factor. For this reason if I had bought a Pixel Magic, I was going to buy the MB100, not MB200.
post #4 of 14
I beleive that the reason that there are no community forums is because they have a forum on their own site:
http://www.pixelmagicforum.com/forum/index.php
Tvix also has that, but it's probably useless if your not fluent in Korean...

Regarding sharing several folders from one PC:
If you haev audio in one disk/folder and video in others you can use the NFS sharing application for the video parts and use plain Samba for the audio parts. NFS is only required when there are high demands on network speed, like HD content.
You can have 4 "network places" configured in your Tvix.

The "music stops when leaving the current directory" have Tvix said that they will fix. But not when.....
J
post #5 of 14
I also considered both units. One thing that swung me is that if you look at the Pixel Magix forums I saw nothing but complaints. Also for me the WAF of cover art for movies/albums is huge. Though my young daughter now insists she has to look at all the 6 pages of kids movie cover art before she can choose what she wants to watch.

Network setup for me was 2 mins. I had a wireless G router already so I bought a wireless G game adapter. Added an IP address to the Tvix, saved and rebooted and 'off to the races' as they say. I just use FTP to transfer files to the internal HD but for me it takes about 10-12 mins per gig which is fine for me. Most TV shows I watch are about 400M so they take almost no time to transfer over. You can also watch SD files off the Tvix while you send files to it. Obviously the first time I set the unit up I used the USB connection to transfer the 300Gb+ collection I had.

For kicks I did try streaming a movie (DVD) and it worked but then the phone rang and it stopped when someone answered (both running at 2.4Ghz). If I seriously wanted to stream I would have run a wire, got some of those 200Mbps powerlines or maybe gone wireless N. At some point I will probably buy a NAS and consider that process again. At the moment I am hoping that black friday gives me a good deal on a 750Mb hard drive then I can move the 400Mb I currently have to a USB port. 1Tb should be enough for Wiggles and Blues Clues.

Overall I would rate the Tvix at the moment for my use 9/10. I have managed to lock it occasionally (twice I thnk) when FF at x32 on certain files but nothing that could not be fixed by rebooting it. I'm pretty sure it was the same file as well so it maybe something weird I did when encoding.

Hope this helps. Happy Thanksgiving all.
post #6 of 14
Two other things spring to mind

1) I do not use the Tvix for audio/pictures so any complaints there could well be valid

2) I have BBC Plant earth as well. Remember the Tvix/MB 100 do not support H.264 which the hi-def version might be available in. If you need h.264 then you would be better waiting 6 months for better units to appear.
post #7 of 14
Another option to consider - in particular if you are not too fond of the 5000 form factor (like me) - is the just released TViX M-4000U. From what I understand it is the same as the 5k except it does not have the option for an HD tuner, which is yet to be released, and of course the different form factor. More can be found here.

_____
Axel
post #8 of 14
Quote:
Originally Posted by jofa View Post

....
You can have 4 "network places" configured in your Tvix.

....

Could you please elaborate on this a bit? My server is a simple XP Pro machine, running 8 individual HDD - file sharing enabled. Those contain my ripped DVD collection. So in other words, over the LAN I see 8 individual folders (or drives). Would I be able to see only 4 with the TViX?
If so, are there any workarounds, e.g. placing shortcuts in the folder structure of the drives that are visible and which point to those that are not?

Thanks!
____
Axel
post #9 of 14
Quote:
Originally Posted by Axel View Post

Could you please elaborate on this a bit? My server is a simple XP Pro machine, running 8 individual HDD - file sharing enabled. Those contain my ripped DVD collection. So in other words, over the LAN I see 8 individual folders (or drives). Would I be able to see only 4 with the TViX?
If so, are there any workarounds, e.g. placing shortcuts in the folder structure of the drives that are visible and which point to those that are not?

Thanks!
____
Axel

Well, it's getting off topic for this thread....
Anyway, search "the other HUGE thread" for the Tvix. There are several solutions I beleive. The Tvix can have 4 different network paths. You can use Junction Magic to create "shortcuts" from your exported drive(s) to other drives/directories.
The if you use NFS and the Tvix supplied application for that or Samba is up to your speed requirements. NFS being the faster one.

Now back to the shootout in this thread

And WHERE are all PixelMagic users???
post #10 of 14
Thread Starter 
Thanks to everyone who has responded so far.

I should've added a couple of points:

My primary machine is a MacBook Pro, and it normally runs OS X 10.4.x but I also have Windows XP SP2 loaded via Boot Camp in case I need to use anything that is Windows-only.

I can easily set up NFS serving on it via NFS Manager, but I don't want to do any streaming over the network (I've thought about getting one of those 200 Mbps powerline Ethernet setups, but for $229 I don't want to find out that they can't provide enough bandwidth to do what I purchased them for) - so I want to put everything onto a local internal disk and use it as a cache, more or less, to eliminate network-based problems. (BTW folks - Best Buy is selling the Seagate 750 GB EIDE - on sale now - for only $299.99 - that's 40 cents a GB. I just bought one on the Web site and will pick it up in-store tomorrow.)

Because of this, I am interested in knowing how one gets files into the internal hard drive on both of these units. I am aware from the answers that the TViX apparently now has local FTP server capability, so that's certainly one way to do so. Is there any way (on either box) to mount the remote server via NFS and copy the files over NFS to the local drive? Or is NFS only supported for remote streaming access?

guygamps specifically mentioned the ability to get the files from a remote PC (or Mac, presumably) into the internal drive of the TViX. Is there no way to do so with the PMS MB200? Is the only way to transfer files into the MB200's internal drive to hook up an external USB 2.0 drive and do it that way? (Most of my media files are in a RAID setup that is HFS+ for one thing and FireWire 800 for another - doing it over the network is pretty much my only real option.)

tolax, The 6 BBC "Planet Earth" files I have are DivX® 6 HD AVI's - not H.264. They play fine on the JVC SRDVD-100U if I burn them to DVD-R and put the JVC unit into DVI-720p mode.

Axel, thanks for that pointer to the M-4000U press release - that's a definite factor in the decision now, as that form-factor is much friendlier to my Sanus cabinetry/furniture setup. I wonder when Digital Connection will get this new M-4000U model in stock though ... ?

And yes, jofa - where are you Pixel Magic users? Or do I go by the PMS Forums posts, which to me look like things are finally reasonably stable with the latest 1.3.4 firmware? I still see complaints and reports of sluggish CS responses, which worries me. Of course, maybe there's hundreds of satisfied customers that have no problems with their own usage of the machine (I found an AV Forum site in England where lots of people are saying they are happy with the Pixel Magic boxes; and their other products like their video processors are apparently highly regarded), and I'm only seeing the squeaky wheels on the support Forum site?

Finally, I'm curious whether the problems with using the TViX as a networked Photos/Audio browser/player that guygamps mentions are only endemic to the TViX, or whether they affect all such NMP's and therefore would be similar issues with the PMS MB200? I know with the JVC SRDVD-100U deck there are similar issues, I'm using wizd as the server-side software on the Mac and navigation is rudimentary at best and there is no search capability - I pretty much have to guess which "page" the folder in question that I want to drill down into is on.

I really wish there was someone out there who had tried both the TViX and the PMS and could report comparatively!

Again, thanks to everyone for their responses so far.
post #11 of 14
Quote:
Originally Posted by jofa View Post

Well, it's getting off topic for this thread....
Anyway, search "the other HUGE thread" for the Tvix. There are several solutions I beleive. The Tvix can have 4 different network paths. You can use Junction Magic to create "shortcuts" from your exported drive(s) to other drives/directories.
The if you use NFS and the Tvix supplied application for that or Samba is up to your speed requirements. NFS being the faster one.

Now back to the shootout in this thread

And WHERE are all PixelMagic users???

Thanks - found it. It is called "Junction Link Magic" and is freeware. I have to play with it a bit, but is seems rather straight forward.

....and you are right! Let's get back to the topic.
____
Axel
post #12 of 14
Quote:
Originally Posted by guygamps View Post

I should have added, on the subject of audio quality, the TViX is very very good. I have it connected digital to my Pioneer AX3 which in "Direct" mode passes the digits to a very good DA converter, and straight to power amp section with no DSP. It sounds very very nice. In such a case the quality of the on board DAC (burr brown or whatever) is not a factor. For this reason if I had bought a Pixel Magic, I was going to buy the MB100, not MB200.

Both MB have Burr-Brown DAC. The difference is whether they have the "precision clock" or not.
See here for more details. Question for me would be if a "normal ear" could hear the difference, in particular if you want the box to watch movies or listed to compressed audio formats.
Still the MB100 is a bit more expensive that the TViX.

In general like the MB better (form factor, PMS's reputation as high end video processor company, etc.). However they still seem to have major issues with the firmware. Therefore I would go with the TViX M4000, which has a form factor that is more appealing to me, combined with the more robust firmware.
_____
Axel
post #13 of 14
Thread Starter 
Based on my research, a friend in Japan bought the MB200, only to find out there is no support for transferring files into the internal hard drive other than via hooking it up to a Windows machine and writing to it as an NTFS Volume. Given that we are both Mac users, this is pretty much a slam-dunk - my Music/Videos/Photos are on HFS+ Volumes on my (remote) Mac, and without a method for getting files into the MB200 (either, say, via incoming FTP like the TViX can do, or via internal support for reading HFS+ Volumes in the MB200, or, heaven forbid, support for downloading files mounted via NFS into the local internal drive), it's useless to him - I could use Windows [EDIT: which would also necessitate buying MacDrive 6 to have native HFS+ support in Windows] via Boot Camp to get around this I suppose, but it's a pain and I'd rather not have to do it.

So, for Mac users at least, it's looking like the TViX M-4000 is the slam-dunk choice at the moment - unless I'm either misinformed or wrong in my assumptions.
post #14 of 14
Quote:
Originally Posted by Riot Nrrrd View Post

Based on my research, a friend in Japan bought the MB200, only to find out there is no support for transferring files into the internal hard drive other than via hooking it up to a Windows machine and writing to it as an NTFS Volume. Given that we are both Mac users, this is pretty much a slam-dunk - my Music/Videos/Photos are on HFS+ Volumes on my (remote) Mac, and without a method for getting files into the MB200 (either, say, via incoming FTP like the TViX can do, or via internal support for reading HFS+ Volumes in the MB200, or, heaven forbid, support for downloading files mounted via NFS into the local internal drive), it's useless to him - I could use Windows [EDIT: which would also necessitate buying MacDrive 6 to have native HFS+ support in Windows] via Boot Camp to get around this I suppose, but it's a pain and I'd rather not have to do it.

So, for Mac users at least, it's looking like the TViX M-4000 is the slam-dunk choice at the moment - unless I'm either misinformed or wrong in my assumptions.

I too use Mac/PC and have been trying to choose between Tvix 4000/MB100 because an internal hard drive makes good sense to me. The MB100 owner's manual (.pdf on PM site) tells how to transfer your media files from an external HDD to the internal drive via USB. Format the internal drive NTFS. Mac OS X recognizes both HFS+ and NTFS farmatted drives. After much research and talk with dealers it seems to me the MB100 has better build quality, excellent user
manual. How responsive and feature rich the software interfaces are I don't really know; likewise for tech support. Both companies do firmware updates but seem to be hampered by Sigma Designs (maker of the EM8621 chip used in both units) concentration on their IPTV business. An issue for me is the ability to play H.264 video format which is becoming more popular. I don't understand why none of these media server manufacturers: PM, Tvix, Ziova, Netgear, Buffalo, DLink and all the others aren't using the Sigma EM8634 chip that has been out since last spring. If any of these units with an internal drive and DVI/HDMI ports would add H.264 to the video formats they presently handle, I would jump on it right away.
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