14 of 17 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars
Continuous improvement, 6 Oct. 2012
I was unsure whether it would be any good based on some of the negative reviews but I am generally blown away by this product. I had a HTPC running Windows media centre which was getting a bit old and slow, so wanted something that could play video from an external hard drive as well as browse the web, stream video such as NBA TV, iPlayer, YouTube etc and play music too.
This does all that and more.
The remote controls my TV, Home Theatre and VM TiVo using a combination of CEC control (through the HDMI connection), an infra red repeater and a broadcast from the box itself. This has removed the need for any of those remote controls and the clunky keyboard I had for the HTPC, making my lounge much, much neater. The HDMI pass through means that when watching TV on the TiVo, I can search the internet for information on the programme, actors etc, or send tweets (but a phone is better for this!). The keyboard on the remote will not control characters on the TiVo for searching, but the number buttons do work.
The main advantage of this pass through is that you don't need to switch the TV source to access your video or audio content. When the box is switched off, it can switch back on instantly but if you want to save a few Watts, it takes a lot longer. The optical audio out will pass Dolby Digital sound from the sources as well as the box itself.
To play files from a Network hard drive using DLNA, an app called plex is required costing 62p but DLNA support will work properly with a future firmware update.
The video player interface is basic and takes a while to load images to the folders, if you're used to XBMC or Windows Media Centre and really want the smooth interface they provide with movie and actor information etc, this isn't there yet. However, according to the XBMC web site, there is an XBMC Android app on the way which should work.
Although I have TiVo, I don't have Virgin broadband, but video streaming is smooth with just a few seconds buffering before the videos start.
Apps are still quite limited but this isn't a problem for me, other Android Apps can be made to work but a file browser and perseverance is required to achieve this, not for the faint hearted.
iPlayer only works through the web browser at the moment, but if /bigscreen is added to the URL then the interface is the same as for the Wii and PS3. Rumour suggests that iPlayer, ITV Player, Demand 5 and 4OD will all have dedicated apps shortly but as mentioned previously, the web browser is sufficient if a bit annoying.
All in all, it's a good little box with lots of potential, and in my opinion worth investing in.