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Setup

For basic use, setting up the ioBox is as simple as hooking up the right cables and powering it on. By default, the box is set to acquire an IP address via DHCP and auto-detect your output. So if everything goes well, you'll end up on with the initial display as shown in Figure 3.

Main Menu

Figure 3: Home Menu

One thing I noticed during setup was that the documentation is a bit sparse. The unit came with a user manual, and a quick-start guide. But neither had in-depth information. For that, you are directed to the online forums. There's a lot in the forums, but it can be a bit confusing because you get a mixture of info from users and moderators as well as questions and comments about other NMT boxes.

Figure 4 shows the setup screen where numerous parameters can be set, including network settings, screen-saver timeout, A/V output settings etc.

Preferences

Figure 4: Preferences

One notable configuration menu allows you to mount network shares from the ioBox. So if you have a NAS on your LAN or you're sharing a directory from your PC, you can mount it using this menu and the content on it will be available. If you don't want to acquire content using a network share, you can also get it automatically via the UPnP A/V protocol. It's pretty common for NASes to have a built-in UPnP AV server. So if you have one running on the network already, you're set.

Figure 5 shows the Media Source selection screen where the local disks and servers located on my network are shown.

server select

Figure 5: Server Select

There are a lot of ways to move content to the ioBox if you have installed a hard drive. If you want to push your files to it, you can use the setup menu to share your internal disk via either the Windows SMB or Unix/OSX NFS protocol. Once you've done this, you can mount it across the network from your PC and move files over. In this case, it acts much like a NAS device itself, except it lacks common configuration settings such as the definition of individual shares, with privileges, user accounts, quotas, etc.

If that doesn't appeal to you, you also have the option to FTP your files to the box. If you're into downloading content via Torrent, you're covered here as well, since the ioBox has a built-in Torrent client. Just Feed it your Torrent file and it will download your content for viewing.

The ioBox also supports fetching content via a documented HTTP/HTML protocol. This has given external developers the ability to develop creative servers that can interact with the device. Once such server that looks promising is called the MovieJukebox. The idea is that you would run this app on your computer and it indexes your media and feeds info and screens to the ioBox. I had problems getting it to run due to Java version requirements. But as you can see from the screen-shots on the MovieJukebox web page, this app looks promising. Note, however, that you'll need to have a separate server system running to feed content to the ioBox.

If you're going to rely on UPnP AV for getting content, a benefit is that it can interact with other devices that also use the same protocol. One such device, is the iPhone or iPod Touch, at least when you've purchased an add-on app such as Plug Player. Figure 6 shows a screenshot of my iPod where I've selected the ioBox as a UPnP output (renderer), and then one of my UPnP servers as input.

iPod Control

Figure 6: iPod Control

Using this combo, I can use my iPod as a controller for the ioBox. At least that's the theory. In practice, more often than not, when I'd select a video and hit the play button on my iPod, the ioBox would start to play back the movie and then freeze up, requiring me to power-cycle the box. Hopefully this will get corrected because this is a nice combo when it works.

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