The remote control is again very similar to WD’s model in shape and size, and it is comfortable to hold. It takes two AA batteries so rechargeable ones can be used, but the battery hatch is quite difficult to remove. Unlike the buttons on the remotes of most competitors, the ones here are all the same size. This leaves the layout as the only way to distinguish between them, in turn making the remote more difficult to use in the dark. At least that layout is logical though, and the rubber buttons offer decent feedback. You’ll need to make sure to keep the remote to hand as it’s the only way to control the media player’s functions.
So what’s it actually like in use? It takes a lengthy 25 seconds to boot from off, but from standby it only takes five seconds. The interface is attractive and simple, easily matching any other player we have seen. Though files can be viewed in a list or in icons, the one disadvantage the hdMedia Stream seems to have here compared to its closest competitor is that unlike the WDTV Live it doesn’t appear to offer video previews. On the other hand this means switching between menus and files is nearly always instantaneous, except that when you plug USB storage in, it can take a few seconds to read it. The Eminent hdMedia Stream handles FAT, FAT32, and NTFS file systems.
Sorting systems are extensive. In ‘Music’, for example, you can view your collection by artist, genre, album, date, folders, recently-played or even playlist. You also get all the settings you might wish for, including 1080p 24 playback, colour depth, etc.
It’s not surprising to see that file support is practically identical to the WDTV, since the same Advanced Sigma Designs 8655 processor beats at the heart of both media players. Thankfully that means there is a pretty extensive list. Image support includes GIF, BMP, JPEG, TIF/TIFF and PNG. In terms of audio the Eminent can handle WMA Pro, AAC, AC3/Dolby, MP1-3, WAV, (L)PCM and FLAC, and as the “DTS Edition” part of the player’s title suggests both DTS through and downmixing of Dolby/DTS to stereo.
For video we have Xvid HD, MPEG 1-4.2, WMV9, H.264, VC-1, MKV, AVI, VOB, ISO, IFO, DVR-MS, ASF and MOV on hand. The only absentee on this list, which it shares with the WDTV Live, is RMVB, which is supported by both Asus’ O!Play HDP-R1 and A.C.Ryan’sACR-PV73100 Playon!HD. However, while you can’t hook up an external DVD player, like with the Playon! HD, Eminent does allow you to play back Blu-ray ISOs from USB or networked storage. Finally subtitle support includes SRT, SUB, SMI, SSA, ASS, and Vobsub.