One of my favorite gadgets was the Mvix 5000U- it was one of Mvix’s first media boxes released a few years ago. The only time it was disconnected was so it could be filled with more media. The interface was crude but it really handled playback well especially the DVD ISO I kept ripping to the internal hard drive. The pain of it was I had to keep running it back and from my living room to my office to keep it hard drive filled with my latest videos.
The MX-760HD came along with network support solving my one major complaint. But the 5000U was still running strong so I felt no need to upgrade. Now enter the MX-780HD. I spotted the newest member of the family at CES 2008- it added HDMI and best of all it was black so it matched the rest of my entertainment center (Trivial, to some, but I know there are some of you that understand). I recently got a new TV with more HDMI ports so I decided it is time for an upgrade.
- Quick Look
- Video Formats: DivX, XviD, DVD (ISO/VOB/IFO), MPEG, VCD(DAT), WMV(WMV-9), ASF(WMV-9), TP, TS, TRP
- Audio Formats: MP3, WMA, AAC, OGG, PMC, AC3, M4A, DTS decoding (down-mixing / Pass though)
- Image Formats: BMP, JPG, PNG
- Subtitle Support: SMO, SRT, SUB
- Video Out: HDMI, Composite, S-Video, Component
- Audio Out: RCA, Digital Coaxial, Optical
- TV System: NTSC, PAL, Auto
- HD Support: 720p, 1080i, 1080p
- Networking: 802.11b/g (WEP/WPA), 10/100 Ethernet, NDAS
- Internal Disk: 3.5” IDE or SATA
- USB: Slave (for connecting to computer) and Host (for additional storage)
Inside The Box
In the box comes with everything you need to get started: the media player with detachable antennae, remote, userguide, NDAS configuration disc, power adapter, standard usb cable, RCA AV cables, SATA cable, and finally a power cable for the SATA drive. I was disappointed that there was no IDE cable included. Granted SATAs are more common, but most of us are more likely to have a spare IDE drive hanging around. I salvaged a short IDE cable from a USB hard drive case.
Set Up / Installation
Installing the hard drive could not be any easier. As you can see from the video it takes just a minute or two. Tech savvy people would be able to do this with their eyes closed, but it is even easy enough for tech noobs to simply watch this video once or twice.
Once you get the hard drive up and running you may want to go to the Mvix website and grab the latest firmware. The firmware has been stable for me and only experience one lock up in the initial firmware. But you will want to keep checking for firmware updates since Mvix will be adding more features, functionality, and fixes.
Back at CES I reported that the 780HD was going to get a Bittorrent client. Right now it only exists in the labs at Mvix; they do plan on releasing but want to make sure its rock solid before it is release. It may be some time yet, so don’t bank on this feature. Treat is as a possible bonus feature for the future.
Setting up the wireless and wired network was a matter of going to the set up menu and selecting auto config. You are also able to inter IP address, netmask, gateway, and DNS manually for more complicated networks. For wireless it is equally straightforward and does support WEP/WPA encryption.
When my network was configured, shared drives on all my networks immediately showed up. Even Windows Home Sever publicly shared folders showed up.
NDAS (Network Direct Attached Storage)
I thought this was going to be complicated but to my surprise it took but 10 min. The steps are basically this: Install NDAS software included with the Mvix, start NDAS on the setup menu, select configure NDAS by clicking on the trey icon on your desktop, then finally enter the key that is found on the inside of your Mvix. The wizard on the desktop will also automatically mount the drive for you showing right there under “My Computer”. That is pretty much the only manual you need.
Overall set up and installation was an absolute breeze. Do keep in mind however, that networks are not always the easiest things to work with, so you may need some patience depending on how complicated or how old your gear is.
The UI is fairly crude but no worse than what you would find on your cable box. Menus and navigation are simple in a familiar file folder browsing type interface. It is a really easy “pick up and use” interface which I find easier to use than my Comcast cable box. The only real learning curve is the remote. But, I tossed the remote to the side and programmed my Logitech Harmony remote to control the Mvix; working it seamlessly into my home theatre.
I would also like to mention that transition of menus to and from video is very smooth. There is absolutely no scr
een flicker or jumpy video when transitioning in and out of video. It is a smooth fade in and out.
I think the biggest disappointment to me is that the UI does not take advantage of HD resolutions. The menus could be much more user friendly with the ability to sow so much more information. I’m not sure what the GUI’s resolution is but it looks to be less than even 720×480. But also, it does not take advantage of 16:9 screens. It is full screen but the navigation is confined to the 4:3 area.
Hard Drive / USB
The most straightforward way to play media is through the internal hard drive. You can load it one of two ways: plugged into your computer over USB or over the network connected as a NDAS drive. Additionally, you can plug in two additional flash drives or hard drives into the back of the Mvix. They show up automatically in the media browser and can be navigated just as the main hard drive would.
There was a little bit of latency differences of maybe a second or two over wireless, but not enough to deter the use of the wireless option. Over wireless all media content played back great with the exception of DVD ISOs. If you are planning on creating a DVD ISO library and connecting to you network wirelessly, you should use the internal hard drive or external USB drive.
Streaming / Internet Radio
Hard drive, external USB, and network all work similarly playing your own media. With the Mvix you can also tap into internet radio. I really like this feature and use it the most for background music for around my whole house.
There is not a whole lot to discuss with music playback since features aver limited to the very basics. Navigating music is like every other menu as a simple file folder structure. Music is played by selecting the file and once done it moves on to the next in the list ordered alphabetically. There is simple play list where you simply press “add” on the remote, adding to the queue. Additionally, there is support for M3U playlists.
I understand that the Mvix is primarily a video player, but I would have been nice to see a little bit more attention to music playback. Sure it works fine as it is, but things like a simple now playing type screen or the ability to add and edit multiple playlists would have been nice. I could however see the Mvix working well at a party with this basic browsing and simple playlist paired with the photo slide show.
Like music basic features are at your disposal, but basic features are common with photo viewing on media players- really that is all you need. Navigation is familiar to the other media, with a simple playlist to create a slide show and it does have the ability to play music at the same time. Slide show intervals can be set to various increments in the options.
The Mvix is built around a Sigma Designs EM8620L family of processors, a chip commonly found in set top boxes where video quality is important. While the main menu screens look like something from the C64, video playback is fantastic. Its smooth, crisp, and many times better looking that what is coming out of your cable box (of course this depends on your source media). I compared a Toshiba DVD upconverter and an Xbox 360 to a DVD ISO on the Mvix all over HDMI. There was absolutely no difference between the Mvix and the upconverted DVD player. The Xbox 360 fell short of both with a little more jaggedness in the video.
One of the best ways to use the 780HD is as a DVD jukebox by ripping you entire collection to ISOs. Granted you don’t get album art like the more expensive systems, but the upconversion quality is a perfect stopgap until the price of Blueray hardware and discs drop to a reasonable price- $30 per disc is a little hard to swallow when DVDs are half the price or less.
All of my media that fell within the specs of the Mvix played without problems. Content that is ripped and converted with 5.1 audio channels work including DivX encoded 5.1. Video playback is really the Mvix’s forte; it does it very well and it is owed to the solid Sigma Designs EM8620L platform.
Note that I am using a Samsung 46” 1080p full HD (1920×1080) TV to test. It can reveal a lot about the video source.
Even though the 780 is a big improvement over the 5000 it is still rough around the edges in terms of the UI and media management. I really wish the UI would take advantage of my HDTV 16:9 screen width. It is on the other hand a very easy to use interface that anyone would be able to pick up an use. Also on the downside the Mvix is missing more robust playlist features, something very important when you can potentially connect to a collective terabyte over the network. On the flipside, the 780HD does a fantastic job with video playback many times doing a better job than your set top box. The wireless and the networking gave me no troubles at all. I had instant access to all shared folders on my desktop, laptop, and Windows Home Server- so storage space is not confined to a single hard drive but will span your shared network space. Overall, it is a welcome improvement over the old 5000 Mvix and definitely worth the upgrade.
- Many Media Source Options
- Smooth Video Playback
- Simple and easy to use interface
- DVD ISO playback matches quality of a DVD upconverter
- Lack of H.264 and MVK Support
- UI doesn’t take advantage of 16:9 output.
- IDE cable not included
- Limited Playlist functions