It won't be long before all HDTVs incorporate BBC iPlayer, video-on-demand services like Lovefilm and Blinkbox, and the playback of content stored on USB- or local network-connected drives. Digital Stream DPS-1000 Digital Stream's DPS-1000: iPlayer inside Heck, most sets from major brands released in the last year or two …
Where's the TV bit
It's a shame none of these boxes seem to offer telly. We have TVs in rooms without sockets that are just used for DVDs. The house is old and it would be impractical to run cables around. Given that these boxes have everything they need to do so it is a shame they don't actually allow you to watch telly. A simple TVCatchup feed would be fine. IPTV even better.
Then again, last time a checked there was bugger all on the 80-odd channels anyway.
I don't really see how the £90 price tag is enough to differentiate it from players like the BDP-S370, which does all that and plays Blu-Ray discs so is somewhat more useful into the future.
Well, for one thing...
We own the S370, and assuming I understand the review correctly, this box will play H.264 vids over DLNA, which the S370 can't (and never will, if the answer I got from Sony tech support was indicative).
The S370's lack of H.264/"MP4" video support over DLNA (which basically means we can't stream 90% of the videos from our NAS box to the S370) is a major and inexplicable irritation of an otherwise very fine player. It seems like madness to have to splash out a further £100 on another network media player like this, just to get H.264-over-DLNA support, but the fact I'm even entertaining the thought, should make one question why Sony can't add this one simple feature. It would make the S370 just about the perfect home entertainment player for our family.
Sorry, I digress...
H264 is supported
I'm pretty certain from posts on the miniDLNA Sourceforge forums that the BDP-S370 does support h264 in 1080p. However, it only supports it in an MPEG2 transport stream (i.e. m2ts) along with an AC3 (AKA Dolby Digital) or MP2 audio track. I suggest that you try using PS3MediaServer to try viewing the files as this should be able to remux them into an appropriate container on the fly. Your other option is to manually remux them using something like TSMuxer.
Your irritation is founded, but its cause is more the pathetic DLNA certification process which only mandates a very limited subset of formats to gain certification. Anything above and beyond these formats is entirely a the manufacturer's discretion, and is generally implemented in one or another way that is different from how any other manufacturers handle that file type.
Thanks for the tip - I'm pretty sure I saw M2TS listed as a format in one of the S370's menus once, but it might just have been one of the MPEG2 vids I transcoded from an original MP4 file, to get the S370 to play it.
I'd give PS3MediaServer a try, except I want to stream the videos directly over DLNA from our Synology DS110j NAS box, which (a) can't run PS3MediaServer, and (b) doesn't have the grunt to handle full-on video transcoding. Might give the Mac version a whirl when the developers finally release it, though...
I think you're right about the problem being largely the looseness of the DLNA spec, but it still seems strange that Sony doesn't include support for one of the most commonly-used video file formats (H.264/"MP4", or "iPod format" if you will). Ah well...
Been looking at one of these
Maplin are flogging these for £90 and was quite interested. A bit of digging revealed quite a few complaints about reliability.
One forum commented that the www function used to exist, but was removed in a software update. Previously there were a lot of complaints about the browsers speed and its inability to cope with anything other than the simplest web pages.
75% is too high
If the item is so bad why give it 75%? From reading here I'd only give it 25% and a big fail.
"...its iPlayer support having rendered my DVR redundant in less than a twelvemonth."
As long as you only watch BBC, have an uncapped Internet service, don't want to keep anything more than 2 weeks (so no long holidays) and are happy with the picture quality.
Re: Get Real!
I agree with you. Except about the picture quality. Not sure what you've been watching, but iPlayer has higher resolution than freeview, and much higher if you watch HD Streams.
If you don't have uncapped internet, I suggest you get a decent ISP (and no, it doesn't have to be more expensive than whatever ripoff connection you are presumably currently hooked up to).
Re: re: Get Real
iPlayer is fine for those with good ADSL which handles the higher definition mode with ease, but for those with slow connections the standard resolutions is choppy.
Re blu ray players
I agree with the previous poster who mentioned the Sony s370. I bought one for £90 last year to do exactly what this box is meant to do. iPlayer, loveFilm, qriocity (sony's pay per view streamer) and local media streaming. It also plays blu rays!
Why pay the same for a no name box which does less?
See my reply to the earlier post...
In short: the S370 can't play H.264 (MP4, or "iPod format") video over DLNA - a massive great ketchup stain on an otherwise pretty-much perfect (for us) HD video machine.
Come on, Sony - how hard is it to add a single widely-used codec to your player?
See my earlier reply about m2ts
That is all :-)
Needs twin HD Freeview tuners + decent hard drive
I can't say I'm a fan of these media player boxes that are designed to hook up to a TV but actually don't have an HD tuner (most "HD ready" TV sets sold until very recently only had SD tuners remember, so the vast majority of UK TV owners don't have HD tuners in their TVs yet) or a hard drive to record onto.
You probably actually need two HD tuners (one to record one and one to watch) and a correspondingly large hard drive (or at least the ability to attach an external one via a USB port). This drives up the price though, but provides a far more useful box to the average family and mostly negates the need for the poorer quality iPlayer facility (which I only ever use if I forget to record something and even then I'm often better off looking "elsewhere" on the Net for a high quality copy).
I've got a Technika 8320HD which would be a decent buy if it wasn't so buggy - 155 quid delivered from Tesco and does a lot more than this Digital Stream box does.
Streaming vs broadcast
It's the general issue of streaming vs broadcast. The author has binned broadcast "in less than a twelvemonth" in favour of streaming. Good luck to him. I am in the "get real!" broadcast camp with my trusty topfield PVR and seperate MP3 players. Streaming clogs up the internets, quality is an issue, and you have to involve your entire home IT ecosystem everytime you want to listen to Thin Lizzy. On the other hand, my hi-fi connected MP3 player boots in under a second.
If this had wi-fi, I'd buy one for my parents, they have no PVR or streaming capabilities. But as far as I can see, it's wired only, and all options for getting a wired connection where I'd need it are either expensive (relative to the box) or a hassle.
For myself, I'm also in the "get real!" camp, I have iPlayer access on my TV via my V+ box and my HTPC, but never use it. Only having stuff available for 7 days or whatever is weak, and anyway I watch a lot of non-BBC stuff, so recording rules for me.
BTW the "More Info: Digital Stream's site" link actually points to "www.theregister.co.uk" right now?
That's one ugly box!
Paris, cos that's also one ugly box!
What about the other stuff
The author no longer has any need for a PVR because everything they need is on iPlayer. Well here in the real world we've noticed that there is still a fair bit of content which doesn't make it to iPlayer or other OD services for whatever reason. The worst part of this is that you only find out about this after the fact because the broadcasters don't advertise in advance that a programme won't be available later on their OD service.
For that reason OD services remain a last resort for me. I will generally record the stuff I want on my PVR rather than take the chance of it either not turning up online or only staying there for a very short time.