A pioneer in the personal video recording field, DViCO continues to push the boundaries with this latest iteration of the idiosyncratically designed TViX personal video recorder (PVR). The size of a biscuit tin, this quirky cylindrical player has enough space for a 3.5 inch Serial ATA (SATA) hard drive, as found in desktop computers. Its aim is to be a hub for all your entertainment needs, but does it fall short of that lofty goal?
The expression “too many to list here” is considered cliche in magazine writing circles, but it’s particularly apt here. The TViX is packed with functionality, from a single HDTV tuner for viewing free-to-air broadcasts and recording them (in HD!) via EPG (electronic program guide), to support for H.264 video and even HD QuickTime movies.
The range of file types supported is so large, you really need to trawl the dark and nasty corners of the internet to find anything this player can’t handle. In fact, the only thing really missing for playback is an optical drive: it does seem a little odd that a device that can handle QuickTime movies can’t play a simple DVD!
You load content onto the TVIX via a PC, connecting the two via simple USB2.0 and just dragging and dropping files into the relevant folders. The unit is small enough to carry through to another room, where you can connect it to a big screen via it HDMI, component, S-Video or composite terminals.
Music and photo playback is icing on the cake, making this a complete media hub with no significant omissions.
All software comes preloaded. It’s a good idea to check the DViCO website for firmware updates (www.dvico.com) as they can enable extra functionality, most particularly the playback of new file types.
You should note that the device doesn’t include a hard drive, which needs to be purchased separately and slotted into the bottom. This is an easy install as the drive only goes in one way and need two cables attached, which just click in.
You can use any size SATA-II drive, and with affordable drives topping out at 750GB that means you’re unlikely to run out of storage any time soon. On top of this, you can attach an external USB2.0 hard drive and play files directly from it. Load it up via your PC, plug into the TV, select your preferred output mode (1080p via HDMI is our pick!) and navigate the menus with the included remote. Easy!
The unit takes a few seconds to boot up, but once on is fairly simple to use. As with all PVRs, some of the menus are a little confusing, though if you consider yourself fairly competent with Windows File Explorer you should have no trouble.
Because the remote has to cover so many functions, it can be a fiddle to do some supposedly simple things, such as navigate a DVD menu, but the unit does change between media quickly, and searching through movies via chapters or fast-forwarding is as quick as on a regular player.
Because the TViX doesn’t have an optical drive, you’ll still need a DVD player, or perhaps an HD optical box of some kind. The lack of optical drive does keep the unit portable, which makes it a cinch to carry back and forth to the PC. If that sounds like too much work, there’s a network port you can use, but it does take some fiddly configuration.
If the cylindrical form factor doesn’t appeal, the TiVX 4130 provides the same functionality in a more rack-friendly conventional (rectangle-ish) shape for around $50 less than the 5130. If you don’t want to source a hard drive yourself, the 5130 is also packaged with 320GB drive for $799.
The TViX 5130 has so much capability it’s hard to fault on any front except user friendliness. Been struggling with a full size PC in your living room until now? Then the TViX is clearly for you.
Reviewer: Anthony Fordham