|At a Glance|
|Product||UEBO Wi-Fi Media Player (M400)|
|Summary||HD networked media player with extensive format support and user-installable hard drive|
|Pros||• Low cost
• User-installable drive
• Large feature set
• Wide video format support
|Cons||• Buggy in spots
• No native Netflix support
• Noisy fan
• Spotty metadata handling
If you're looking to bring digital music, movies or photos into the living room, you've got a lot of choices when you're shopping for a player. Compared to just a few years ago, these little multimedia boxes are getting popular, powerful and more reasonably priced.
In this review, I'm going to check out one these players, the M400 from UEBO. This little box, retailing in the $175 range, promises to play anything you throw at it, including HD video, ripped DVDs, numerous audio formats and more. And it advertises the ability go online for even more content including favorites such as YouTube, Internet radio stations, photo-sharing sites, video podcasts and anything you can view with its own on-TV web browser. And if that's not enough content, you can purchase a subscription to PlayOn, install a server on your local Windows system and this box will give you access to biggies such as ESPN, CNN, NetFlix, Hulu and more.
Figure 1 is the back panel of the M400 where you can see the various options you'll have for hooking it up to a TV.
Figure 1: uebo M400 Back Panel
HDMI, component and composite connections are shown on the left along with standard RCA analog stereo audio jacks. For digital audio, in addition to the HDMI you can choose between optical and coax. Along with the Wi-Fi antenna (802.11g) you'll also notice a Gigabit Ethernet port for wired use.
At the far right, you can see the opening for a fairly large fan. Unfortunately when in use, the fan was noisy enough that I noticed myself turning the volume up on the TV to mask it. You can't see it in this photo, but on the right side there are two USB 2.0 ports, one USB 3.0 port, plus a slot for an SD card. If you are going to use your own external drive, formats of FAT, FAT32, NTFS, EXT3 are documented as supported, but I also found an HFS drive formatted for use on my Mac also worked fine.
For internal storage, the M400 has the ability to use a dedicated user-supplied SATA drive for content. Figure 2 shows the bottom opened up for drive installation.
Figure 2: uebo M400 Drive Installation
Looks easy enough, but it was a bit of a pain getting the screws back in place as metal shields inside slide around, and the white cables shown above on the right of the box leave very little room for the drive to move into its proper position.
Figure 3 shows the remote for the unit.
Figure 3: uebo M400 Remote
The remote worked well enough, but it's not backlit. So if you plan on using it in a darkened, room you might have problems.
When the device was up and running, I measured the power usage with no internal drive installed as 7 W vs. 14 W with an internal drive in use. When powered off, the unit shut all the way down so there was no measurable power usage and the fan was finally silent.
Besides the annoyance with getting a drive installed, setup for this box was fairly straightforward. I connected it to my TV, plugged in an Ethernet cable, powered it up and was presented with the top level menu as shown in Figure 4.
Figure 4: uebo M400 Main Menu
In general, the user interface for the box was well done with attractive graphics and fluid interactions. But there were warts. The M400 has a number of on-screen messages that display on top of the UI. These messages look more like engineering debugging messages rather than relevant consumer information message.
For example, when fetching content across the network, I'd always get a "Testing Network Speed" message followed by a speed readout in "Kbits/sec". And every time the box powered on, I'd see a "Starting NAS" message followed by a "Restart NAS" message. These are interesting to me as a techie, but likely not relevant to most users.