Another month, another toy ...

FINALLY gave in and bought a media player this week after going through many options. Earlier I wanted to build my own media player (i.e. was thinking along the lines of an Atom/ION based mini PC with a Win7 Embedded build and XBMC GUI) but then decided not to until next year so I can use to claim for tax relief ... yup, sometime soon will be another PC build.

There are like hundreds of different types of media players in the local market but probably the most popular are from A.C. Ryan and WD. Then there are those china-made players with no names and no support which are dirt cheap (as low as RM70!) but I decided against these. I have nothing against the heavy weights like the WDTV series or PlayonHD players but I had specific needs.

What I was looking for was something that can
  • Play mpg, mkv, avi, mov, mp3, m4v, vob ... the usual stuff. Didn't need rmvb/rm formats as I have none of those files
  • Network option - either wifi or wired prefably with UPnp or SMB playback
  • Bluray disc playback ... yeah, I actually started buying BD discs before getting a player
  • Multiple media support - HDD, USB, flash etc

The controlling option was the third one with bluray playback. I didn't want to get another standalone player just to play BD content and there aren't that many with optical drives anymore.

I first settled on a Kogan bluray disc player but needed to import from Australia. Final price was around RM1000+ but I would have to forgo things like warranty and replacement. Then there was the Popcorn Hour MNT machine. Weird that a locally made/designed product can't be bought anywhere here! I had to get it from Singapore for around S$400 + shipping + addon bluray drive (any normal PC drive) which drove up the cost ... this really is "Malaysia Tak Boleh".Finally settled on the Taiwanese Dune HD Max which burnt my pocket of RM1500++. It covered all my needs and provided a few which I didn't ask for but really appreciate and love now. Most importantly, it had region-free bluray playback (search for Dune HD region free for the patch to install) which was mucho importante since I had discs from every region in the world (DVDs from 1-6 and BDs A,B and C)

Out of the box (with new firmware of course), the Max supports SMB/CIFS/NFS filesharing so it could grab content from any PC in the network and playback without me having to copy between devices using thumbdrives or portable HDDs (which is does support). Best of all, it had wireless support AND it used the adapter which I already have (the Dlink DWA-140 which I got for free) ... so now its a wireless playback center which can grab content and also host content for other PCs to download from!! It has a hot-plug HDD bay for 3.5" SATA drives which allows for easy install and moving of large amounts of content if actually required.

Currently it grabs HD TV content from my PC upstairs and displays (with help of Zappiti) the following menu during playback ... nothing much since most of the other content is on external drives and these were the only ones on the running internal drive (thats already 120GB mind you!). Next up is to get another internal HDD to install ... all the ones I currently have are 7200rpm-ers which are too hot ... but thats for another day.

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