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Other Features

I won't have room to cover some of the other features of the Ultio in detail, but I'll discuss them briefly. One unique feature that the Ultio brings to the table is file management (Figure 11)

File Manipulation

Figure 11: File Manipulation

The Ultio has the capability to copy, rename, move and delete files through the TV user-interface. I didn't have the hardware to check it out, but the Ultio can also play back DVDs from a USB DVD player. And ff you want to generate your own custom list of files to play, you can interactively mark individual files for your list (from the internal drive only), then play them back in order.

The Ultio also supports downloadable, installable modules (more on this later). Two capabilities that are available now are a Torrent download feature (Figure 12) and a Samba file-server feature.

Torrent Capabilities

Figure 12: Torrent Capabilities

Figure 12 shows several torrents in the process of downloading. I found this feature worked fine. The file-serving capabilities, basically turn your streamer into a mini NAS. But you'll have little direct control over the configuration, i.e. you can't set up individual shares, user accounts, quotas, etc., although it works well enough for moving files over.

Under the Covers

Figure 13 shows the main board of the Ultio. Like many of the systems I've worked with lately, the interesting parts are hidden away under a massive heat-sink.

Ultio Main Board
Click to enlarge image

Figure 13: Mvix Ultio Main Board (click to enlarge)

Since the main processor is hidden, I had to dig in a bit to figure out what it is. A quick network scan of the device turned up an open Telnet port, which presented a login prompt when I connected. I tried logging in with the documented admin account without luck, but when I tried "root" I was in! No password needed. So keep this in mind if you add the Ultio to your network.

It's no secret that the Ultio runs Linux and Mvix provides a complete GPL download site including source code and a tool chain so you can build your own firmware. Mvix is even running a contest with a $500 prize for the best new feature developed.

Poking around a bit, I saw that the kernel was version, there was 128 MB of RAM and the processor was MIPS-based. Specifically the CPU info was listed as a "Realtek Venus" system. A quick Google turned up an interesting page that suggested that the Venus platform was based on a RealkTek RDT1261 chip. But other discussions suggested that the chip was a later revision of the 1261 from Realtek. Shortly after this review posted, however, Mvix sent a note that said "It is not based on model 1261 or 1262 chipset".

I mentioned earlier that the Ultio had a downloaded package capability, but when I had tried it using the documented installation procedure, all I got were errors. Once I was in with a command-prompt, I could see that the mechanism for package management was the standard ipkg system, so based in this, I just installed the packages by-hand using the ipkg-cl command.

Closing Thoughts

The Ultio is an interesting media player with some nice features. I liked the fact that the user- interface was given a bit of thought and polish with nice artwork and media previews. All too often it seems that these UPnP media players just provide little more than a plain list of filenames and directories to choose from.

I also appreciated the openness of the Ultio with the encouragement to external developers. Hopefully some developers will take up the challenge and come up with new capabilities.

The main problem I had with the Ultio was the flakey interaction with UPnP servers. This is unfortunate and hopefully Mvix will issue a new firmware to address it. I was also a bit disappointed that some of my HD content wouldn't play, so I would hope that this can be corrected as well.

Comparing the Ultio and the NMT-based Dragontech ioBox-100HD I reviewed last month, the Ultio is priced at $169 while the ioBox is a bit more at $220. While the Ultio has a superior user-interface and a better slide-show capability, the ioBox played more of my files, had nicer trick-mode capabilities, was silent (no fan!) and had much better interaction with the UPnP servers on my network. You may have different priorities, but if I were to choose between the two, I'd pony up the extra $51 and go with the ioBox.

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