Media Streamer Platforms Roundupby Ganesh T S on June 13, 2010 7:00 PM EST
- Posted in
- Home Theater
- Media Streamer
Blu-Ray player manufacturers realized last year that the Internet Age consumers want more from their purchase than just dumb playback of optical disks. The latest players from the top tier companies such as LG and Samsung provide support for VOD (Netflix, YouTube etc.) and streaming of media from the local network, while also adding USB ports to support playback of local media.
The LG BD390 is almost universally accepted as the best Blu-Ray player / media streamer combo. It is noted for its inbuilt Wi-Fi capabilities, and provides support for NTFS drives connected to its USB port. It utilizes the Mediatek MT8520 SOC for the core media streamer functions. The host processor is an ARM1176 core running at 500 MHz. The SOC also integrates Ethernet MAC, 2 USB 2.0 and 2 SATA II ports with a HDMI 1.3 transmitter. Hardware acceleration is supported for decode of high definition H264, VC1, MPEG2 and DivX videos. All varieties of Dolby and DTS soundtracks are also supported. With an inbuilt hardware cryptography engine (really, a pre-requisite for any chip trying to get into the Blu-Ray market), handling DRM content on Blu-Ray disks is the main duty of this player. The operational power consumption for this player is 21W.
Now that the specs are out of the way, let us take a look at how this player holds up to the rigors of usage as a media streamer. LG issues frequent firmware updates, and almost all VOD services have been enabled (except for Amazon Video on Demand). Since the MT8520 happens to be Mediatek's first SOC geared towards the HD market, software support for the product hasn't matured yet. As of December 2009, the unit is unable to play MP4 files even though the internal codec is supported. There are also reports of sluggish picture playback, possibly due to the fact that JPEG decode is not hardware accelerated. Many of these issues may be resolved by future firmware updates. Another Blu-Ray player based on the same SOC is the Oppo BDP-83. Media streaming capability wise, it fares similar to the LG BD-390, albeit at a higher price point. While the Oppo version sells for US $500, the LG player can be obtained for less than US $250 as of June 2010.
The MT8520 Rebadged as an Oppo OP8521G
[ Picture Courtesy : User oppohellas at avsite.gr ]
The Mediatek SOC offering in this arena seems promising and its full capabilities may surface down the road with future firmware upgrades. Mediatek's future roadmap in terms of updates to the MT8520 SOC itself also merits a watch. Broadcom has already released a few generations of SOCs targeted towards the Blu Ray market (most Samsung Blu-Ray players use Broadcom chips), but they haven't made their mark yet with capabilities necessary for the media streaming market.
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ganeshts - Tuesday, June 15, 2010 - linkModeverything, We are aware of the good reviews of Brite View on other channels and good user feedback too on AVS Forums. We will try to get reviews up for their upcoming product(s), but no guarantees :)
Mumrik - Wednesday, June 16, 2010 - linkCrap! When I read the headline I anticipated a roundup-style review. Not an overview of the field :-/
Montrey - Thursday, June 17, 2010 - linkI was a little surprised that the Seagate FreeAgent Theater+ (emphasis on the "+") was not mentioned in the article. I purchased one about 2 months ago after a fair amount of research on products that fit my needs. I have been extremely pleased with it so far. With it you can:
Directly plug in a Seagate FreeAgent portable drive for hidden storage or transport
Use the USB port on the back for another storage device
Stream media over your home network (minor registry fix in Win7 to make it work)
Access YouTube, Netflix, and a variety of other streaming media that I never use, but Netflix works great
The main selling point for me at the time of purchase was that it can handle pretty much any kind of video file you can throw at it. I have yet to find anything it cannot read. You can even play a ripped DVD folder just as if it were a DVD. In fact, you can share a DVD drive on a networked computer, and play a DVD from that, eliminating a stand alone DVD player.
Best of all, for a 1080p USB and streaming media player, it is fairly cheap. I bought mine on NewEgg for $90 shipped.
ganeshts - Thursday, June 17, 2010 - linkMontrey,
The Seagate FreeAgent Theater+ also uses a Realtek chipset (similar to what is on Xtreamer). The platform is covered, but the product in particular may be investigated in detail in a future review.
shuck76 - Thursday, June 17, 2010 - linkA couple additional features for your comparison list would be:
ISO playback ability for DVD and Blu-ray
Blu-ray menu support
ganeshts - Thursday, June 17, 2010 - linkshuck76,
Thanks! Will add the following to the test suite:
(1) DVD / Blu Ray ISO Support
(2) DVD / Blu Ray Menu Support
fzzzt - Thursday, June 17, 2010 - linkPlease consider adding ISO images to your list of containers. Myself and others I know simply use images to play discs, getting all the features without any hassle.
ruzveh - Thursday, June 17, 2010 - linkApart from flawless 1080p support for all files and codec we also want some more hardware support incl. Bluetooth 3 + HDMI 1.4 + 7.1ch support + better graphics and audio components and capacitors
ganeshts - Thursday, June 17, 2010 - linkruzveh,
We will probably see many features that you want in the next gen products.
7.1 channel support already exists on most players support HDMI 1.3 ; We will keep an eye out for the graphics capabilities.
ruzveh - Thursday, June 17, 2010 - linkI also believe that todays media players should also support next level IPv6. And support all major online video and radio sites. What else can we ask in a media streamer.. ummmm??
Maybe capability to add more accessories :D