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Introduction

Mvix MX-800HD Ultio 1080p Media Center

At a Glance
Product Mvix Ultio 1080p Media Center (MX-800HD)
Summary BYOD High-Def Media streaming device
Pros •Attractive UI
•Wide media formats supported
•Nice Photo slide show capabilities
Cons •Disappointing HD format support
• IR remote code overlap
•UPnP server interaction problems
•Noisy fan

Network media players continue to be a popular addition to the home network for those who want to view their movies or photos or listen to their digital music in the family room. And since disk drives continue to drop in price while increasing in size, it's feasible to have hundreds and hundreds of full-length movies and thousands of photos and music files on your network.

In this review I'll check out a new high-definition capable streaming-media box that will let you play all that content in your entertainment center. The Mvix Ultio MX-800HD advertises support for dozens of different file formats at resolutions up to 1080p. And it does it all at a relatively inexpensive price of $169.

Figure 1 shows the back of the Ultio where you can see the various I/O connectors.

Panel

Figure 1: Back Panel

HD video can come in either via component or HDMI and standard-definition video connects via a composite video port. If you're not using the HDMI connector for audio, you have a choice of either optical or RCA audio connectors. To get the Ultio on your network, you can use 10/100 Ethernet port or connect a supported USB wireless adapter (I didn't test this). Mvix doesn't have a list of compatible adapters anywhere on its website. But they sent a link to this product and said that "any adapter with Realtek 8187b chipset will work".

The USB host ports can also be used for connecting an external drive that is NTFS, FAT32 or EXT3 formatted. And if you want to move content directly to an internal drive that you have the option of installing, you can use the USB "slave" port to directly connect the Ultio to your computer where it will be recognized as an external drive.

I tried this out on my MacBook. But the internal drive that Mvix had pre-installed in my review unit was in NTFS format. And since the Mac has read-only access to NTFS drives, I couldn't check out the direct-attach feature.

The sides of the Ultio are vented for the internal fan, which I found to be quite loud when the unit was powered up. I measured power consumption with an internal drive at 15 W. The remote for the Ultio, as seen in the photo up above, is full-featured and easy to use. But it's not back-lit, so if you're wanting to watch movies in a darkened room, you may have issues.

And speaking of remote issues, I had a conflict between my Westinghouse LCD TV and the Ultio where some IR commands overlapped between the two. For example, using my Westinghouse remote to issue a Mute command was also received by the Ultio as a Menu command. (Shouldn't there be some common registry so manufacturers don't overlap with each other?) So while doing this review, I had to tape a piece of paper over the TV's IR port, but that's obviously not a permanent solution.

Setup

The Ultio comes in either a diskless BYOD model or with a 1TB 3.5" SATA drive pre-installed. If you're going to add your own drive, the case opens up easily so you can pop a drive in. Once you've got everything connected up and the box is powered on, you'll be greeted with the attractive top-level menu shown in Figure 2.

Main Menu

Figure 2: Main Menu

The first two list items select either the internal drive or an attached USB drive as a content source. But we'll first explore the last Setup menu (Figure 3).

Setup Menu

Figure 3: Setup Menu

Under the System settings you'll find basics such as menu language, screen-saver, firmware update, etc. When you first insert the internal drive, you'll also format it using a menu found here.

The Video and Audio sub-menus allows adjusting the output in various ways such as picture resolution, digital audio type, etc. The Photo sub-menu allows adjustment of slideshow parameters, and the Network menu allows you to change from acquiring an IP address via DHCP to using a static address. If you're using a wireless adapter, you'll set it up here.

Once you've got everything configured the way you want it, you'll want to dig into playback. First I'll check out the UPnP capabilities since if you already have a server on your network, the Ultio requires no setup at all. Figure 4 shows the UPnP selection menu where you can see three servers that I have running on my LAN.

Server Selection

Figure 4: Server Selection

The Ultio itself doesn't come bundled with a UPnP AV server, but there are a number of free servers available for you to install yourself. If you use a NAS device on your LAN, it may also have a UPnP AV server.

Figure 5 shows the top-level menu after I selected one of my UPnP servers.

UPnP Top Menu

Figure 5: UPnP Top Menu

This a typical menu when dealing with UPnP AV servers. Content is typically divided into Music, Photos and Videos. But after that, the menus will vary depending on the capabilities of your server how it is configured. Some will provide access to Internet Radio stations and others will even provide access to commercial services such as Netfilx on-demand videos.

Figure 6 shows the display when I dug down into one of my music sub-directories and started playing back a file.

Music Display

Figure 6: Music Display

It's a bit hard to see on this screen capture, but there's a "No ID3 Tag" error indicating that the Ultio didn't recognize the ID3 tag on the file (more on this later) even though my ID3 editor had filled it out. Some of my files did show tag info, but there doesn't seem to be any support for display of album-art.

The Ultio supports around a dozen or so formats for music including standards including MP3, AAC, WAV, WMA, and OGG. Of course, you won't be able to play back any files restricted with DRM, but fortunately, DRM seems to be going out of style (at least for audio).

For the complete list of supported formats see Mvix's format document. I appreciated the support for a wide rang of formats. But in general, I found the music playback capabilities of the Ultio to be very basic.

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