Well it would appear as if set-top boxes are popping up left and right around here. The sad part is that they all only differ slightly, but none get it all correct. That said, the Mvix Ultio Pro Media Center comes pretty close from my initial impressions. It will stream your media from across the network or allow for local storage on a user supplied 3.5″ hard drive (up to 2TB). The Ultio also fully supports UPnP servers and integrates with PlayOn or Tversity so that you can stream your Hulu, Netflix, or whatever other internet content straight to it.
From a first glance, this product looks awesome! It even supports sending both video and audio across the HDMI connection whereas a number of recent devices are only sending audio out via optical. I’m still not sure if it will allow for bit-streaming HD audio codecs such as DTS-MA or Dolby TrueHD, but it does support them. However, there are a few complaints. The first being the same 100Mb ethernet port that plagues the rest of the set-top box world. Is it really that difficult to swap that for a gigabit port? Or would that really increase production costs that much? And the second complaint is that the only integrated app is a bit torrent client. It would be nice to have some internet streaming services such as Netflix, Hulu, Revision3, or even youtube integrated into the devices OS. I don’t want to have to use a third party solution to stream the content from the internet to my PC and then from my PC to the device. Ultimately, I should just be able to stream straight from the interwebs to my device and be done with it.
Mvix is doing something unique though and it really impressed me. They are extending an “Ultio Challenge” to the developers of the world. Mvix has released the source code to their Ultio firmware as open-source code and challenged the world to improve upon it. Basically, you download the source code, improve it with your own code/patches, submit them to Mvix for testing, and if they like it they include it in the next official firmware release. On top of all that, they send you $500 for your accepted submission too! I’m a huge fan of open-source projects and it can’t get too much better than that.
The Ultio Pro Media Center can be picked up at Amazon for around $175.
And now, what you’ve all been waiting for. Here are some specs on the Ultio Pro Media Center, but be sure to check their site for the full spec sheet.
- Digital Media Player Supports native 1080p output and many video codecs including MKV
- HDD Compatibility: Supports 3.5 SATA hard disk (not included)
- HDD Format: FAT32, EXT3, NTFS
- TV System Compatibility: PAL, NTSC, Auto
- Networking: LAN RJ45 10/100M or Wi-Fi 802.11N (via USB dongle, sold seperately)
- Network Protocols: Embedded uPnP Client, Samba Client
- Video Codecs: H.264, AVC-HD, MKV, WMV9, MPEG 1/2/4, HD Divx , Xvid, FLV, RM/RMVB, Container: mkv, ts, m2ts, mts, tp, trp, wmv, Ifo, iso, vob, dat, avi, mpg, mp4, mov, rm, rmvb, divx, xvid, flv
- Audio Codecs: DTS-MA, Dolby TrueHD, MP3, WMA, WAV, OGG, AAC, LPCM, FLAC, AC3, Container: WAV [.wav, .pcm], ADIF, ADTS [.aac], M4A [.m4a], OGG [.ogg], ASF/WMA [.asf, .wma], FLAC [.flac]
- Images: JPG, JPEG, BMP, PNG, GIF
- Subtitle Playback: sub, smi, ssa, srt, idx + sub
- Audio/Video Out: HDMI1.3 (digital video and audio signals), Component (Y Pb Pr), Composite Video, Optical SPDIF (5.1Ch Dolby Digital), Stereo audio output (Audio R/L),
- I / O Ports: USB2.0 Host (for connecting external CD ROM/DVD ROM/External HDD/USB WIFI), USB2.0 Slave to transfer Media from PC, 10/100Mbps Ethernet port
- Torrent Client: Embedded Bit torrent Client
- File Management: HDD Format, Copy, Delete, Rename, File Transfer via hand-held Remote
- Language: English, German, Spanish, Italian, French, Portuguese, Dutch, Hebrew