Media Servers

HD Digitech HDX900 HDTV Media Streamer

ARTICLE INDEX

Introduction

The HDX900 is an HDTV streamer based on the Network Media Tank (NMT) middleware platform by Syabas. If you don't know what a streamer is yet, think of the AppleTV but without any of the Apple restrictions. Consider a player that will play all of your movies, in file format, including Blu-ray, DVDs, or any popular format you might have on your computer hard drive, as well as pictures and audio, but doesn't require you to pay a monthly iTunes bill.

Not all of you might be familiar with the concept of "Middleware". Most new video streamers are now based on the Sigma Designs 8634/5 chipset – which is what most new Blu-ray players are also based on. Now, Sigma Designs only provides the SDK to access the capabilities that these chips provide, but if you want to be able to play files, browse the network, or actually use the device, you still need some kind of software that will do the actual playback. Some companies, like DVICO create their own software (in their case, Linux based). However, this is way too time consuming and expensive for most companies to be able to do in an effective manner.

This is where companies like Syabas come into the picture – they provide you with middleware, which does 99% of what you need. All you need to do is build your hardware and customize all the loose ends. The middleware for 8634/5 Syabas is called Network Media Tank.

Although I believe the original intent in the use of the word "tank" is a container holding all of your media files, the HDX900 manufacturer  (HD Digitech) took the tank moniker to its other meaning, the military kind.

Specifications

  • Design: Media Streamer
  • Connectivity: LAN 10/100 Mbs; Wireless 802.11n
  • Network Protocol: HTTP, RTSP
  • Video Formats Supported : MPEG1/2/4, Open DivX-HD, Xvid-HD, WMV9-HD, H.264
  • Audio Formats Supported: MP1/2/3, WMA, WMA Pro, Ogg Vorbis, AAC, AC3, PCM, WAV, FLAC
  • Connections: HDMI 1.1, Component, S-Video-Composite, Toslink, Stereo Audio, Ethernet
  • Dimensions: 2.2" H x 8.9" W x 7.5" D
  • Weight: 3 Pounds
  • MSRP: $240 USA
  • HD Digitech

The Design

The HDX900 feels very solid and uses thick anodized brushed aluminum covers. It feels like the good old days where putting a little bit of pressure on your audio and video equipment did not cause it to bend, break, or make scary creaking noises. The front panel can be ordered in either black anodized or silver. I got the black color, which fits the unit perfectly.

The HDX900 package includes a 2m HDMI cable, the remote, 12V power supply, the unit itself, and a very short manual.

The unit is quite small and is large enough to host a 3.5" harddrive. Inside the unit, one can see mostly air, as the unit is ready to accept a SATA hard drive. Problem is, there are no explanations, so I accidentally took off the back panel screws instead. I figured out my mistake quickly though, and put them back in, taking out the two small screws on the bottom. This reveals a small PCB board and some cables. A hard drive attaches to the bottom of the unit using four supplied screws. However, there are no real heat sinks and if you get a very hot drive (I have a 500G sata drive that can be effectively used to boil eggs), this can cause the entire unit to overheat and subsequently fail. Essentially, the entire case of the unit turns into the hard drive's heat sink, which caused my unit to feel extremely hot.