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  • The best entry-level media player money can buy

    posted by elbaradei on 10/05/2010
    3

    Involvement:Expert (understands the inner workings) - Ownership:1 day to 1 week

    Pros:

    Probably the best, smallest, and cheapest entry-level media player money can buy.

    SUBTITLES:

    Supports .sub and .ssa/ass subtitles in almost any character coding:

    * ISO 8859-1 Western Europe

    * ISO 8859-2 Western and Central Europe

    * ISO 8859-3 Western Europe and South European (Turkish, Maltese plus Esperanto)

    * ISO 8859-4 Western Europe and Baltic countries (Lithuania, Estonia and Lapp)

    * ISO 8859-5 Cyrillic alphabet

    * ISO 8859-6 Arabic

    * ISO 8859-7 Greek

    * ISO 8859-8 Hebrew

    * ISO 8859-9 Western Europe with amended Turkish character set

    * ISO 8859-10 Western Europe with rationalised character set for Nordic languages, including complete Icelandic set

    * ISO 8859-11 Thai

    * ISO 8859-13 Baltic languages plus Polish

    * ISO 8859-14 Celtic languages (Irish Gaelic, Scottish, Welsh)

    * ISO 8859-15 Added the Euro sign and other rationalisations to ISO 8859-1

    * ISO 8859-16 Central, Eastern and Southern European languages (Polish, Czech, Slovak, Serbian, Croatian, Slovene, Hungarian, Albanian, Romanian, German, Italian)

    * plus a lot of CPxxx formats and UTF8.

    * .srt subtitle files supported, but shows only first row. .sub files play well.

    * Text size, location or color cannot be changed

    * There is no option to turn off subtitles. If they're in the same folder or within the media file, you can only select between which to show.

    VIDEO:

    Supports most common WMV, H.264 and MPEG-4 (Xvid) video formats up to 1920x1080P @ 23,968fps. The manual says is supports up to 30fps, but one WMV file I tried at 30fps didn't play. Did not try MKV/H.264 at that frame rate. Playback is really smooth when you select 1080P@60fps output via HDMI.

    * Clear and crisp color

    * Works well with large files (bigger than 4gb) and external USB drives.

    AUDIO:

    * Plays at least mp3@320kbps and FLAC (did not try any other)

    * AC-3 and DTS decoding works

    * Has coaxial output, but I have not tried it

    OTHER:

    * Good remote and clear menu structure

    * The power adapter is 100-250V, so it will work in almost any country. The plug is US-type, so get the flat-to-round converter from DX if you live in Europe. I got one and it snapped on firmly, so there's not risk in it coming off.

    Cons:

    It's a standalone device, so it cannot be connected to the web. This means you cannot watch e.g. Youtube with it and you have to connect an external usb drive from which the media content is played. However, at this price you shouldn't be too picky about the lack of LAN/WLAN. At this price (currently $47) there's no other player on the market to match this.

    It's easy to use and the load time is really quick.

    * No information about possibility to update the firmware. The firmware version can be checked from settings menu.

    * Only negative thing is that the remote doesn't come with batteries.

    OtherThoughts:

    Probably the best, smallest, and cheapest entry-level media player money can buy. Compared to the Western Digital WD TV HD (version 1) I have, the only real difference is that the WDTV can show folder images (e.g. CD covers) and the UMini can't.

    Bottomline:

    If you're in need of a media player, this is the one you should get. The price is almost ridiculous if you think of the value you get with it.

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