Saturday, July 27, 2013

Mede8er MED600X3D media player


MED600X3D

So after getting my new Vizio m801d 80" HDTV I was looking at a solution to rip 1:1 (use makemkv which is a great program.  This avsforum list of bluray disc specs is handy too.) and stream all my bluray discs that I own (about 85 right now) including 3D bluray discs.  I already have 4 of the wd tv lives in the house, and those work great including 2D bluray.  Where it fumbles is a limitation of the older sigma chip it uses is that it can't handle frame packed 3d MVC video streams (full 1:1 3d bluray, not the compressed down typical SBS mkv).  It will just choke on them with maybe 1 frame per minute.  These more recent and more expensive media streamers that have hit the market are based on the realtek 1186 chip which fully supports frame packed mvc streams.

First, a big shout out to mediaconceptusa.com which is where I ordered my med600x3d from.  It's $190 which is about twice the price of a wd tv live but pricing is very comparable to what is getting charged around Europe.  They shipped incredibly fast, and I got in 2 days.  They also had a nice note in there about how they tested it and even flashed the latest firmware.  All in all I was very impressed with them.

You can get the latest firmware in the forums.  The latest manual for the new firmware is found here: MED600X3D  English V2.0.0 Firmware.  It's worth looking over.  There are 2 ways to update the firmware: setup menu and  emergency method.  I tried to research to see which way was the best way.  I ended up flashing the latest with the emergency method (potentially less issues), and it worked fine.  Yes, I flashed it even though it already had the latest just to try out the process.

It pretty much does everything the wd tv live does but faster.  I tried it with samba windows shares first and things worked pretty well.  Everything streams flawlessly including 1:1 bluray mkv rips.  It pretty much supports every codec and container media type you can think of.  It handles dvd ISOs just fine with full menus.  It will also play bluray ISOs but without a menu.  There is a bd lite menu option that I never got to work.  It doesn't matter so much since you can bring up a playlist while playing a bluray ISO that lists all the titles so you can still get to all the content minus the fancy BD java menus (a feature I wish the wd tv live had).  I personally prefer it this way as you can get straight to the content quicker.  It also plays discs ripped to files instead of iso (dvd and bluray).  Subtitles are handled well too with lots of customization options like size, placement, and color.  DTS-MA and DD True HD all pass through just fine to the receiver.  I personally don't care much about a flashy jukebox UI with a lot of pretty cover art, info, or any of that other stuff (though it's supported through some free add on pc software).  All I care about is fast and densely packed information that I can quickly navigate and browse through.  In list view it does just that and works well.  I kind of miss the page up/down navigation of the wd tv live but in its place they let you jump to the first letter using the number keys and holding down a direction will quickly accelerate the scrolling speed.  During playback the navigation is even better than the wd tv.  You can use the number buttons to jump to that % in the file.  You can press right or left direction buttons to quickly scrub forward or back on the timeline, press enter and you are there.  You can go to a specific time.  You can scan at 32x.  Stability and reliability has been rock solid so far.  No odd freezes or crashes.  Works fine playing live TV (unprotected content) directly from hdhomerun prime.  It exhibits none of the odd behaviors I sometimes get with the wd tv like shares vanishing when you reboot the server requiring you to reboot the wdtv.  Everything just feels solid about this device.

Apps.  Just pretty much forget about it.  This box is really primarily designed to stream your local media.  You won't find netflix, amazon, spotify, or really anything you would recognize except youtube.  The youtube app does work very well and reminds me of the ps3 app.  It also supports pairing with your mobile device for controlling and casting media to the med600x3d.  Youtube quality looks very good.  It does support an ok web browser (no flash support).  Just plug in any usb keyboard/mouse and you are good to go (I did not buy the optional $50 tiny keyboard).  It's not something I would use much, and the ps3 and xbox 360 have better browsers anyways.  It does support RSS and podcasts which is great!  It was one of the neat features I liked about the wd tv, and I'm glad it is supported here.  Setup instructions for adding your own feeds are here.  So go add your favorite video podcasts like rev3 stuff and gametrailers, etc and it all looks and works great.

One place where using samba shares starts to struggle a bit is with 3d mvc files.  These things are big with an equally large bitrate.  It's the main reason why I decided to switch to NFS.  Instructions for setting up HaneWin are found here.  It's pretty easy to get going just remember to DISABLE JUMBO FRAMES if it is turned on for your ethernet adapter and enable flow control.  It's all covered in the latest updated manual too.  With NFS shares setup everything streams flawlessly without a hiccup including frame packed 3d mvc mkv (Avatar 3D is a good one to test with).  You have some basic file management features too like delete, copy, move and multiselect.  These worked fine on NFS shares too.  Everything is streamed through a pure gigabit network using all cat 6 cables.  I recently picked up this Rosewill RGS-1024 24 port gigabit switch.  Highly recommended if you are looking for a large cheap gigabit switch.

Drive Pooling.  When you start dealing with 30-50GB files you start running into space issues.  Right now on my main server (running windows 8 pro with classic shell) I have 6 hard drives in the main case and then 2 X 4 bay sans digital towerRaid boxes.  I'm up to 27 TB but you start getting way too many drive letters with media scattered all over the place.  I'm currently using Drive Bender which I think is rather great.  Right now I have 5 drives in a 12TB pool.  You can create samba and NFS shares on the pool just fine.  Performance is great with just a slight drop in throughput (almost unnoticeable on reads, maybe 10% on writes).  CPU utilization is less than 1% and memory is less than 30MB.  I really like how drive bender sits on top of NTFS and works at the file level instead of a block level.  It sure gives me peace of mind knowing I can pull a drive out of the pool and still be able to access the content.  Make sure you enable smooth stream for media files in drive bender.  I also have balancing turned off since I'm not doing any folder duplication/mirroring.  New files copied into the pool are still balanced anyways.

Power consumption seems to be less than 5 watts while in use and .51 watts while in standby.  It's right in line with other steamers except it's sleep mode is much deeper (the thing is completely cold in standby).  Start up times out of sleep is pretty quick too at maybe around 10 sec.

There is a universal  iOS app available for $4.  It's ok and works pretty well as a remote control.  I couldn't test out the other features since I don't have the jukebox stuff setup on the pc server side yet.  Too bad it can't also double for keyboard/mouse input for things like the web browser.

I've researched other cheaper realtek 1186 based streamers like the KDLinks HD700 ($140) and Micca EP600 ($110) which look like interesting alternatives.  But everything I read the med8er line of devices are kind of considered the flagship of realtek 1186 based streamers.

Highly recommended.  In my opinion the wd tv live is still the best value.  It plays almost everything up through 2d bluray and has a good mix of online services too at a great price (seen as low as $80 new on newegg flash deals).  But if you want the very best in local media streaming that will play the highest quality and highest bitrate files including the brutal bitrates of mvc files then this is a great device.  Granted, I'm paying double of a wd tv live to basically gain the ability of playing mvc mkv files which is why I'll probably will ever own only one of these.  When quality matters and you want perfect 1:1 bluray/3D bluray quality then this is a great solution.

UPDATE (5/31/2014):
- To play divx avi files just change FourCC tag to xvid/xvid under the hacks & tweaks tab using abcAVI Tag Editor.  It takes only a second and works great.  For a command line batch way to do it check this thread.  There is also a very simple fourcc changer you can use here.  Just manually type  xvid/xvid in the boxes.
- I dug a bit deeper into some of the unique features this device has that the wd tv lacks.  You can turn on watched flag support.  What it does if you watch a file for more than 10 min it drops a little .t file next to it and that shows up as a pair of eyes on the far right of the filename telling you you've watched it.  It's nice that the flag is stored in a file on the share so if you have more than one med600x3d the flag persists across all your streamers.
- You can also lock individual folders with a pin.  This could be a handy parental feature if you organize your media separating the kids shows from the more mature content.
- I've started messing with the jukebox features and the ios app more.  When you scan a folder from the streamer it creates a sql lite database file out on the share.  It takes a while but seemed to work ok.  The iOS app seems to only display in thumbnail view.  I wish it had a list folder style view and navigation which would make it much more useful for large music collections on the small iPhone screen.





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