Product Review

Pixel Magic HD MediaBox MB200 High Definition Media Player (Media Server)

Part I

July, 2006

Ofer LaOr


Click on the photo above to see a larger version.


Codecs: HD, WMV9, MPEG 1/2/4, DivX, XviD and DVD
    (.iso/.vob) Files
● Multiple Output Resolutions, including 1080p
● IDE Hard Drive Capability up to 500 GB
● USB 2.0 Drive Support
● Network Interface
● 24/192 Analog Devices DACs
● Dimensions: 7.9" H x 4.1" W x 9" D
● Weight: 5.5 Pounds
● MSRP: $450 USA





Pixel Magic is well known for several products they have created over the last three years. This Hong Kong based company has been actively implementing some rather breakthrough components in the video processing arena, including the Crystalio, the Plasma Enhancer and, more recently, the acclaimed Crystalio II.

Lesser known is the fact that the company has been working on SDI solutions, as well as XCARD+PDI solutions and NAS (Network Attached Storage) solutions, mostly based on the Linux operating system.

The jump to creating an HDTV MediaBox provides a high quality, low cost playback solution for HDTV enthusiasts. This includes HTPC users who are recording their content and would like a home theater-friendly solution to play back their content, as well as HDV camcorder users who would like to view their HDTV home videos.

The MB200

The HD MediaBox MB200 is a universal player that can play most types of content available today (essentially every major format short of Quick Time HD and H.264). The company offers this unit as either the MB100 (the "Regular" version), the MB200 (the "Audiophile" version), or as part of an integrated processor solution within the Crystalio II video processor. The MB200 has a special system clock, and is priced at $450 USA, compared to the MB100 at $360.

The MB200 is capable of playing back content from your computer, a hard drive that you install into the MB200 yourself, external storage through the two USB 2.0 connections, or your Network (more on the Network capabilities of the unit later).

To install a hard drive, three external screws must be removed, and the unit opens to reveal a sturdy metal chassis. Since the unit is fanless, the metal chassis doubles as a heat sink for the hard drive, and this is easily seen in the design. The housing is clearly built for long term use, so get a big, high quality hard drive, install it, and forget it.

The two USB 2.0 connectors easily allow you to extend this design by either using disk-on-key dongle solutions or external hard drive housings. The unit supports NTFS (the Windows NT file system), and except for the need to keep the drive defragmented (a known issue with most media boxes and streamers), this works very well.

Defragmentation can be done by Windows' internal defragmentation utility or by using Sysinternal's excellent free "Contig" command line utility (other GUI solutions are, of course, available for purchase on the Internet).

Externally, the unit is very well designed. It is slick and great looking. The MB200 can either sit in a specially designed vertical cradle or sit horizontally by removing the cradle, held to the unit with a single screw.

Click Here to Go to Part II.

Copyright 2006 Secrets of Home Theater & High Fidelity

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