If you're like me, you have a collection of MP3 files that you can play only on a portable MP3 player or through your desktop PC speakers. I have about 7000 music files, 100 video files in various formats (home movies of the kids and feature-length movies), and thousands of JPG images of my family on one of five wirelessly connected PCs throughout my house. I needed a way to listen to that collection of digital music on a better sound system, and I wanted to showcase my home movies on something better than my computer's 17” plasma screen.
The Prismiq Mediaplayer is a sleek black box that fits seamlessly into your living room or den. Using the remote control or keyboard, your can instantly pull up the latest news from the Web, chat through AOL Instant Messager (AIM), play MP3 or WMA audio tracks, or enjoy a movie.
Setup is quick and painless. I loaded up the MediaManager software onto my dedicated PC and let the software to scan for appropriate media. This process takes a while, but you can get busy with the hardware while the scanning proceeds.
I placed the Mediaplayer atop my TV and judged its aesthetics. The unit is only 9" x 1.5" x 5.25", and its slim design and elegant style blended nicely with my TV/Xbox/DVR system. Using either the supplied RCA analog-audio cables or the preferred S-Video/Digital Audio output, setup takes just a minute or two. Next, I had a choice between regular cable and a wireless connection to my network. I went the wired route because I already had the network router and cable in place for my Xbox Live connection.
|Overview of MediaPlayer Specifications|
|DVD-quality video in MPEG-1/2/4, Motion-JPEG, and AVI (including DivX)|
|Stream MP3, WMA, and WAV audio files|
|Play Internet radio on the stereo|
|Display digital photos|
|Browse the Web|
|Display live, personalized news and information|
|Instant Message with friends (through AIM)|
Media playback is smoother than I expected. Prismiq has done a great job of creating easy-to-navigate menus for Audio, Video, and Photos, and the MediaPlayer comes with the CE version of Microsoft Internet Explorer (IE), which doesn’t support all Web sites but nicely covers news, weather, and stocks. The remote control is a user-friendly navigation tool, with dedicated buttons for audio, video, Web, and so on, but the keyboard is the preferred choice if you plan to use the Web and/or instant messaging (IM)
In my video-playback tests, both DivX and MPG movies worked perfectly—no lag and zero stuttering through the wired network. Prismiq even includes a setting with which to change the aspect ratio from 4x3 to 16x9, demonstrating forward thinking. In my audio-playback tests, MP3 and WMA also worked well, but I’d like to see AAC support at some point. In the imaging department, I created several slide shows that played an audio track in the background—great for weddings, vacations, and birthdays.
The MediaPlayer performed flawlessly through my wired network; however, when I configured the device to work over my 802.11b wireless network (Linksys PCMCIA Card/Linksys Access Point/Router), I had problems with DivX files. MPG and MP3 played fine, but the large file size and slow data-transfer rate (802.11b is just 10Mbps) caused stutters after a couple of minutes of playback with the DivX encoded movies. Changing the wireless network to 802.11g, running at 54Mbps, eliminated the problem.
Prismiq has crammed a plethora of features into its MediaPlayer. This nifty device gives you access to your digital media collection—music, video, art, and the Web—so that you can display it in your living room, den, or bedroom. For $199 (plus $50 for the optional wireless keyboard), the Prismiq Mediaplayer is a device no connected home should be without. We can’t wait to see the recently announced MediaPlayer/Recorder in action.
|Connected Home Magazine Rating (10 possible)|
|Design||Ease of Use||Performance||Overall|
|Detailed Tech Specs|
|CPU/System Board:||NEC uPD61130 32-bit MIPS microprocessor with integrated MPEG decoder 16MB Flash ROM 64MB SDRAM|
|Output interfaces:||1 S-Video 1 Composite Video 1 S/PDIF 2 RCA Audio (L/R Stereo)|
|Network Interfaces:||1 Ethernet Interface, 10/100BaseT 1 CardBus/PCMCIA Card Slot for 802.11a/b/g 1 Remote IR Receiver|
|Video formats:||MPEG-1, MPEG-2, VOB (at the STB) MPEG-4, Motion-JPEG, AVI* (transcoded at PC)|
|Audio formats:||MP3, MP2, AC3-in (at the STB) WAV, additional (transcoded at PC) Shoutcast and WMA Internet radio|
|Graphics formats:||JPEG, GIF, PNG JPEG digital photos Digital audio: 18-bit stereo and S/PDIF|
|Set-top software:||Linux 2.4 OS Embedded Web browser AOL-compatible Instant Messaging|
|PC requirements:||600MHz Pentium II or faster (700MHz Pentium III or faster PC for MPEG-4 or AVI* file playback) Windows 98 SE, Me, 2000, XP operating systems Minimum 65MB of available hard disk space (not including media files) Minimum memory of 128MB (256MB recommended)|
Checkout the MediaPlayer at the Prismiq Website