Media Servers

HD Digitech HDX900 HDTV Media Streamer

ARTICLE INDEX

In Use

Picture and audio quality are fantastic. The unit only goes up to HDMI 1.1, which means it will not be able to play the new HD audio formats from Blu-ray files. However, it is able to bitstream LDPCM through HDMI to a compatible A/V receiver (in my case the Yamaha AVR 3800). More and more Blu-ray releases now include the new compressed formats (DTS HD, DTS-HD Master Audio, and Dolby TrueHD) rather than their PCM counterpart (which is the same quality, but has less sex appeal and takes up way more room on the Blu-ray disc), so this could be an issue in the future.

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Since the unit essentially runs Linux, it can do quite a few interesting things. Unfortunately, most of these require the internal hard drive to be formatted in EXT2 or EXT3 UNIX based disk format. If you keep the drive in NTFS format, you can still use its contents and play them back, but you will not be able to use the extended capabilities of the unit. What capabilities? The ability to use the unit itself as Network Attached Storage (NAS), the ability to access it through FTP or to use the internal Bit-Torrent client. Additional software add-ons are planned to be made available in the future (I can think of quite a few that would make life much easier).

I can see that I need to format the drive to something obscure like EXT2, and that should be addressed for the future. I also think that the company should consider making a unit that would be able to handle higher capacity drives by including better heat dissipation techniques that would isolate the main board from the heat generated by the harddrive. The reason why I assume the unit does not support a USB host port is due to the fact that the computer would not recognize the EXT2 format anyway, so this would be of little use.

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In my case, I had contents on the local hard drive, as well as content over the network, on a server, in SMB, UP&P (now called "DLNA") and myiHome formats. MyiHome is a dedicated software that is supplied for the HDX900 and seemed to provide support for the fastest bitrates. I tried very high bitrate content, including the first open source movie ever created Elephant's Dreams, which was downloaded from w6rz.net – and is MPEG-2 running at an amazing 48 Mbps. The results were fantastic, and I could see no problems with the video.

Pressing Info several times lets you see where you are located in the movie, as well as key information about the movie such as the total time, file name as well as audio and video file formats.

However, when you have the list of file names, they don't always scroll horizontally (long file names), and there is no way to know more information about the file. So, pressing Info just gives you the full file name, but not file size or anything else. There is also no sorting for the file names, useful when you have a Blu-ray directory and only one file contains the actual movie.

The difference between performance of the different source protocols is quite staggering. SMB failed to play back high bitrate content. Some audio and video formats are not detected by specific server software, and I also had problems with audio playback with some servers.