Reviewer: David Smith
In essence this space-age cylinder is a portable hard drive with a variety of hardware multimedia codecs. It is designed to play back audio, stills and high definition video, but just like any external hard drive it can also store any kind of computer data. Its functionality resides in being able to play back a wide range of media files that can be stored in folders, exported to a high definition projector, plasma or LCD telly and accessed via the remote control.
The model reviewed featured a 80GB hard drive but this can be replaced with a drive of your choice. With 300GB drives now commonplace, and with the option of connecting additional USB external drives, there?s scope for storing a massive number of multimedia files.
The cylindrical shape suggests an integrated DVD drive, but there isn’t one. A pity, really, as coupled with a HD set-top box, the TViX could have fulfilled all your entertainment system’s primary audio-video playback and record needs.
The rear panel has an extremely useful set of input/output connectors, including composite and S-Video, component video, and a high definition DVI port for true HD, up to 1920 x 1080i. It also features stereo audio jacks and optical and coaxial outputs for sending digital surround soundtracks to an AV receiver. DTS and Dolby Digital can be downmixed to two-channel stereo and there is computer connectivity via three USB 2.0 ports, plus a LAN jack for network connection.Â A multi-input/output port allows connection to an external component, such as a digital set-top box or DVD player.
When I first started exploring the TViX HD I thought I had a faulty model. I plugged it into the mains, turned on its main power switch and saw a small yellow indicator on top light up. I plugged the USB cable into my computer and – nothing happened. I took it into the living room and plugged the video cable into the TV and, again, nothing happened.
In fact nothing happens until you press the power button on the remote. Once that’s done, Windows recognises the drive and you’re off and running. This is where the fun starts and the possibilities open up.
Successful connection is indicated by a blue fluoro display on the front, the display showing the kind of connection in use and whether it’s functioning properly. There are various silver buttons on top of the cylinder, namely Setup, Play/Pause, Stop/Return and Function. There is also a navigation plate and selector button.
In practise, the remote will be the most commonly used way of controlling the system and it features a wide range of options, most of which are self-explanatory. Four little white buttons at the top of the remote allow you to select DTV, Video, Audio or Photo folders directly, provided you have placed your media in the corresponding folders on the hard drive.
TViX supports (PAL and NTSC) 480p, 480i, 720p, 720i and 1080i resolutions, and the demo model came loaded with some high resolution NASA images which ran like a slideshow. It also had some music from the likes of Kiss and Duran Duran and a couple of aviation video clips which displayed superbly on our TV. Additionally there was a very impressive set of HDV video from a camcorder; the visual quality was razor sharp.
Of course, the idea is that you build your own selection of music, movies, home video footage and digital photo files. You transfer these from your computer to the TViX, place them in the appropriate folders then sit back and enjoy the twenty-first century jukebox experience it offers on your home entertainment system.
The TViX can play back just about any compressed audio and video format (see Specifications for full listing) file, including HD versions of WMV, XviD and DivX. It plays back high definition video recorded from a digital set-top box, HDV footage or any DVDs that you manage to copy and store in .ISO or .IFO formats. These DVD files retain all menu and chapter functionality.
The TViX HD is a sexy-looking and impressive device, but when a computer does everything it does, and more, why would anyone need it? In truth, no-one needs it, but there are plenty who would like it.
It collects all your favourite photos, home videos, Internet movie downloads (legal and illegal, HD or otherwise) in the one place for convenient enjoyment in the lounge room. It’s completely portable but can also be permanently installed in your entertainment rack, leaving your computer free for more work-related matters.