TViX-HD Network Media Player (NMP) and HDTV DVR
quick comment on my on going project, I've spent years storing and archiving HDTV
recordings, ripping all my DVD
and CDs to disk, and I owned a stack of hard drives (in removable bays)
with files scattered throughout. A year
ago, I acquired the first of my favorite toys, an Infrant ReadyNAS 1.6TB NAS (Network Attached Storage)
drive and started the task of organizing files. With the ReadyNAS
as a server, all my music and video files are now in a single networked
location that can easily be accessed by all my network based gear. No longer
is a PC necessary in the chain, although one can certainly be dedicated
as server for storage.
original plan was to build an HTPC for each room, but I nixed the idea
for having to overcome some copy protection issues. What I needed
was a single box that could play all the files I had stored. Simplicity
was a goal, but compatibility with all my files the driving factor. A
quick glance at the diagram below shows how I fulfilled all my requirements.
TViX diagram represents my current configuration, but don't overlook the
optional features to this media player:
of the Box
intention is to simply play files via your network, the TViX is ready
out of the box with a 10/100BT Ethernet port. Connect to your
router/switch, set video output, run through the network settings (know
the IP address of your other network devices), and you'll be playing
video and audio files as well as viewing photos pronto.
unit is first turned on, you can toggle through the TV out mode to get the
correct signal for your display. The multiple output types allow
you to connect to all types of TVs from standard NTSC to 1080p HDTV.
With a hard drive installed, it's ideal for the road as a portable video server.
system is fairly PC centric, but the interface is easily mastered.
works well as a music streamer with Internet Radio, I personally
appreciate the ability to play my FLAC files. Screenshot above
shows the available connection choices, internal hard disk, network, and
are transferred to the hard drive (optional) in the TViX either via USB
2.0 connection to a computer or over the network using the TViX built-in
FPT server. The TViX works with both PC and Mac, the
SATA controller (TViX M4000PA uses IDE) is compatible with 750GB and
larger hard disks, but heat should be considered when installing large
drives with higher power requirements.
is a versatile decoder, able to play many formats and files at up to
around 30Mbps. Its up-converted 1080p video quality rivals HTPC and some serious
scalers, although lacking some features found in high priced
display controls are basic and simple to setup, the audio can be a
little more complex especially with HDMI as an option, but anyone with a
receiver or pre/pro should find the configuration a breeze.
The TViX has both Toslink and S/PDIF ports as well as Analog L+R RCA
jacks to cover all
quirk of the current Sigma based streamers to note, when playing
consecutive files they pause breifly at all file transitions.
This is a problem for multiple-file recordings
and music that continues unbroken into the next track. There are
file utilities that can fix many of these issues, so remember to create
single video file when possible.
hard drive and the optional tuner to TViX for recording over-the-air (OTA) HDTV
broadcasts. The scheduling is done via an on-screen guide based
the program information embedded in most local broadcasts, not the best
solution but typical of OTA tuners.
does not directly offer wireless networking, but it does support WiFi
connection via external USB adapters, such as the LinkSys WUSB54GC (per
DVICO website-I have not tried this). Also, a WiFi upgrade module is in the
works, but it will take the same space as the HDTV tuner that's
infinitely much cooler. Furthermore, if you store and play HD files,
WiFi-at least through the "g" flavor- is a
non-starter as it lacks sufficient bandwidth for HDTV transport streams and other high
Mac compatible on drives formatted as FAT32 partition, though that is
not recommended for Windows because of its maximum 4GB file size
limitation. Once the hard disk is installed in the TViX, use USB
2.0 to connect and format the drive as an NTFS partition with the Windows Disk
provides Netshare utility for NFS connection to a Windows based PC as an
alternative to standard Windows file sharing, called "SMB" or
the ReadyNAS or other NFS supporting server, simply choose the "Normal"
network-share setting in the TViX to get smooth playback of high-bitrate
handles DVD and transport stream files with ease, but H.264 support is
still in development stages and will fail to play some file types.
Problems have been reported, such as when displaying large jpeg files or
some A/V file formats. But easy-to-install firmware updates to
address many of thse have been frequent, so the number of issues is
is a perfect companion to Home Theater PCs and other recording-capable products
such as the R5000 and similar devices that
create transferable files. It's small and portable, and puts out surprisingly stable and well scaled video. The box is fairly
responsive to its remote control, which is provided with oodles of shortcut
centralized multimedia storage, the TViX is a nearly ideal solution that is relatively
family friendly, but flexible enough for the inveterate tinkerer.