Sunday, April 24, 2005

AivX DivX Player

I've just bought a new 2.5" HDD enclosure from Sarotech, AivX.

I got it for $80 on eBay, which is pricey for a HDD enclosure but you get a lots of extras. First up, the build quality is excellent and features an tough aluminium casing (although there is a mock-silver plastic strip around the unit that looks a little cheap). It feels solid and is slightly smaller than my LaCie P2 drive. All cables are supplied along with a neat carry case.

(The S-Video cable, FM antenna extension and 5.1 channel adapter are missing from this picture.)
Fitting the 2.5" drive was easy and a screwdriver was supplied (which is a nice touch).

The main feature is the ability to act as a multimedia device. Video formats supported are AVI (DivX 3.x, 4.x, 5.x XviD), DAT, MPG and VOB (unlike the Mvisto ISO is not supported, unfortunately); music formats are MP3, WMA and OGG. Suppored picture format is just JPEG, but a later firmware upgrade may support others.

Basic operation means plugging into a PC via a USB 2.0 connection. It's bus powered, so there is no need for additional cabling. The HDD can be FAT or NTFS formatted and up to two partitions are supported with the current firmware. Transfer of media is quick and can be placed anywhere on the drive.

There are many options for plugging into your TV. PAL, NTSC and HDTV are supported. You can switch to anamorphic 16:9 widscreen, letterbox 16:9 or standard 4:3. The component cable supplied features separate conections for each component so I will have to get a component to SCART converter to test RGB.

I used the S-Video connection (composite is also supplied) so I cannot judge the true picture quality.

Sound is stereo or 5.1 surround with DTS passthrough. I've not tested the 5.1 surround, so stuck with stereo for the time being. There is a built-in FM transmitter for music playback in a car or to a Hi-Fi system. An FM antenna extension is supplied to increase quality and distance. It works very well.

All operations are controlled by the remote control (there is support for an IR-Blaster compatible IR extension). It works well over distances of around 10m.

Operation is easy. Press the remote's power button and within 5 seconds the media browser is displayed on the TV screen.

Navigate using the scroll buttons to a movie, music or picture file and then press the play button to view or listen. All other operations such as pause, fast forward/reverse etc all work well. You also get all the standard DVD menu navigation and special features etc when viewing VOBs.

Most movies have worked straight away, with only one XviD causing problems. I need to investigate more to see if the transcoding failed. All music files have also worked, and if the album cover art is called background.jpg you get to see that displayed on the TV. I encode music at a high variable bitrate (> 450kbps), so I was worried that I might have to downsample this. However, it worked fine and the music quality was good (although I've only played this through the TV so far).

The picture slideshow worked well. It displayed a huge 4800x4800 graphic, although took a few seconds to appear.

In general, I'm very happy with this device and would recommend it. Alternatives are LaCie silverscreen, Mvisto and Mvolt.


Anonymous said...

As a proud owner of a Macpower “Mvisto” enclosure. I am happy to report that my Mvisto is a beautifully engineered product. The build quality and finish are both superb and it simply oozes quality. The attention to detail is impressive with lots of nice touches.


ArnĂ³r said...

I'm wondering about buying one of those myself, so it's really nice to see the pictures of the UI. I was so afraid it was going to be hideous.

You say there is no support for ISO in the AivX, but I noticed on Sarotech's homepage that both (2.5" & 3.5") versions of the AivX support ISO files.
Maybe you just have to upgrade the firmware?