Dvico TViX PVR M-4130SH
- Wide range of supported file formats, great design, no image quality or audio problems
- No time shifting, networking is too complicated
The DViCO TViX PVR M-4130SH is a useful device for those who love downloading video and audio files from the Internet. Being able to play them on your TV is great and with the new PVR features, you can watch and record digital television as well.
Price$ 645.00 (AUD)
The DViCO TViX PVR M-4130SH is a hard drive-based media player with basic HDTV PVR support. It can play back every major file format and many obscure videophile and audiophile formats as well. By connecting an aerial to the device, HDTV can be viewed or recorded. In our tests we were mightily impressed with the scope of the device as it can certainly do many things that no other media player can handle. However, considering DViCO have been in the TV tuner game for quite some time now, the PVR functionality seemed gimped and not particularly user-friendly.
The main draw card for the TViX is its ability to play back pretty much anything you can imagine. This iteration has more supported file formats than ever before including 1080p formats and various HDTV capture formats. It is also the world's first device to support MKV files, a video file format that is growing in popularity. MKV is the open source competitor to Microsoft's AVI format and as such has become popular with the peer-to-peer video sharing networks. Including support for this format makes the 4130 an attractive proposition for those downloading large qualities of video files who want to easily play them on a TV.
If you can download it from the Internet, there is a high probability that you can watch it on the TViX. There are very few files that you can't use. The only exceptions we found were DRM protected files, but we expected that considering they call them "protected" for a reason. A full list of the supported file formats can be found in the specifications tab at the top of this review.
When it comes to audio, the TViX supports a large number of file formats. While it can play all the common formats, it can also play more obscure and high quality formats like OGG or lossless files such as FLAC. Images are also supported but only in JPEG format.
We tested each of the file formats and found no image quality or sound problems at all. Regular DVD rips and files less than 1GB buffered quickly without too much delay but as the file sizes got larger, the buffer was slightly longer -- a 19GB Blu-ray disc rip took only a second or two to start playing.
The PVR functions are fairly basic compared to a dedicated PVR. For a start, there is no time shift feature, which means you can't pause live television. There are manual scheduling functions available via the remote control but it is not clearly labelled and the manual is not clear on its use. You are able to schedule a time and date for recording or make daily or weekly repeats. Scheduling is also available is via the transport stream EPG but this isnt always possible or useful as it is usually very limited. There are currently plans to make the IceTV EPG services compatible with the TViX but at this time, EPG scheduling is fairly useless.
When connected to a PC via a USB port, the device is found as a mass storage device and files can be directly copied with ease. You can also use your home network to stream files from up to four PCs as well. However, the connection via Ethernet is complicated and even the step-by-step instructions in the manual may be too difficult for the average user. The device needs to be configured as part of the network and given a static IP address. Once this is done, the files you wish to access from the PC have to be shared within Windows and placed in a specific folder labelled "tvixhd1". We were disappointed that only this folder could be shared -- we would have liked the freedom to explore the folder tree of our PC across multiple hard drives if needs be.
The current series of TViX players come in two variations which are targeted at the consumer market and the IT market respectively. The TViX PVR M-4130SH does not come with a hard drive and sells for a lower price than the TViX PVR M-5130SH. It is ideal for IT-savvy users who want to install the hard drive of their choice whereas the consumer model comes with a pre-installed 320GB Western Digital drive for an increased price. It worked beautifully, although it won't win any awards for its user interface which is far from attractive or easy to set up.
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