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Video

Figure 11 shows the Video selection screen after I had selected "Movies" from the top-level menu.

Video Selection

Figure 11: uebo M400 Video Selection

In this case, I had changed the display format from "Thumbnails" as seen in the previous menus to "List" as all of my movies were showing up with just a default icon rather than anything meaningful, and it was is a lot slower to scroll through the thumbnail menu rather than the list menu. If you have an image file with the same base name as the movie file, it will be used as the Thumbnail so you can pretty up the display a bit if you don't mind the slowdown.

There's also a third option for menu display, "Preview". In this mode, pausing on a title causes the movie itself to start playing in a little window by the side of the list. This wasn't very useful as it was too slow to start up and then depending on the movie, it often took 30 seconds or more to get past the opening title sequence and credits to actually see a preview of my movie.

What you won't get in any of the menu styles is what I miss most when using the majority of these boxes: metadata. There's no info such as title, actors, year, genre, synopsis, director, etc. Instead you're limited to browsing a flat list of filenames, so hopefully you have recognizable names for your movie files. If you navigate into your movies via the top-level "Files Manager" menu instead of the "Movies" menu, you'll maintain your original directory structure so you can arrange collections of movies yourself to help menu navigation.

So how well did the M400 do playing video and did it live up to its billing of being able to play everything? Almost. I had a few playback failures with old MPEG1 files and a MJPEG video from an old camera also failed. One time I had a playback failure that caused a complete reboot of the box. But for the files that I really cared about, it did fine.

I was impressed that it was able to play a 1080p m2ts Blu-Ray rip including extras such as alternate audio and subtitles. And it was also able to play ripped DVDs with full menu support. All of my recent H.264 rips played without a hitch as did older mpeg2, DivX, XviD and WMV files. I will note that I got poor playback trying to play the same Blu-Ray rip when accessing it across a wireless network via a CIFS share (accessed from the "Files Manager" menu). No real surprise there, as it was a huge, high-resolution file weighing in at a hefty 24GB.

And what about "trick modes" such as fast-forward and reverse? This was a bit of a mixed bag. Like most of these boxes, reverse play is more of a jump backward instead of the smooth scroll you're used to seeing on a DVD. Fast forward worked well until anything above 4X and then it started having to do a combination of scroll forward followed by a jump to catch up. This made it a bit hard to navigate to a particular place in a movie. Once while playing with the trick modes heavily, I got the box in a state where the movie would refuse to un-pause forcing me to stop and restart. Fortunately, the M400 has a nice feature that remembers where you left off and gives you the option of resuming.

Online Features

If you're interested in accessing online content, the M400 has a nice set of features. Figure 12 shows the Internet Media with content options.

Internet Media Menu

Figure 12: uebo M400 Internet Media Menu

From this menu you can see various services that can be accessed from the M400. I won't go into them all, but will touch on a few and note that most seemed to be pretty well done and appear to be custom applications rather than just a web-interface to an online server.

The YouTube feature worked well. Figure 13 shows a YouTube playback.

YouTube

Figure 13: uebo M400 YouTube

For whatever reason, I couldn't seem to get logged into my Pandora account, but I did play a bit with the Picasa capabilities. Figure 14 shows the Picasa menu after I had logged in to my account.

Picassa Support

Figure 14: uebo M400 Picassa Support

Picasa photo display worked the same as the standard photo display including photo transitions and background music. And speaking of music, the Shoutcast feature worked well and let you listen to Internet radio stations. The flickr application was similar to Picasa, except there was no user login. So you either searched for photos or just viewed featured photos. I did note at one point that the screensaver failed to appear while I was in one of the online menus, so be aware if you have a TV that is susceptible to burn-in.

It's not found in the Online menu, but one specifically advertised feature of this box is the inclusion of a web browser so you can browse the web on your TV. I've seen other boxes with this feature and it's always been kind of lost on me. It works, but trying to operate a web browser using just a remote is so awkward that you'd only really use it as a last resort. Figure 15 shows viewing of SmallNetBuilder.com on the M400 web browser.

Web Browser on the TV

Figure 15: uebo M400 Web Browser on the TV

Rendering of this page doesn't look too bad. I didn't spend a lot of time with the browser specifically because it was awkward to use and it was also quite slow. I'll note that I did try to use a USB keyboard to ease the typing of URLs, but it only partially worked. It appears as if many of the regular keys had been mapped to some other function so trying to type started bringing up random M400 menus and navigating the box away from the browser. If you do want to use the browser a lot, you can save your favorites for easier access.

One glaring omission from the Internet Media menu is a feature that a lot of competing multimedia playing boxes have: Netflix. You can get Netflix content on your M400, but you'll have to take a roundabout way to get there by utilizing PlayOn.

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