Summary

Our Score

7/10

Review Price free/subscription

Helios X5000 Network Media Player - Helios X5000

There's no automatic detection of your video source either: to get any sort of picture displayed at first, unless you're lucky enough to hook up a source that matches the X5000's default, you have to keep pressing the TV Modes button on the remote until you hit upon a match. Even then, in order to get the player to remember the setting the next time you start it, you have to use another menu to set yet another option.
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Second, it's not particularly stable, with lock-ups and forced restarts an all-too common occurrence. Audio in particular will begin to break up for no apparent reason - usually while flicking between tracks, though flicking is a generous description as navigation in general is pretty sluggish. To make matters worse, each time you have to restart the machine, you have to wait a minute or two while the thing boots. And there are other irritations too: there's no track number display on the front of the machine while playing CDs, and the music navigation capabilities are weak - you can't browse your music and video libraries while listening to a track playing in the background, for instance.

The good news for the X5000 is that audio and video performance are both excellent. For comparison, I set it up next to my Denon 1920 upscaling player, which can boast not only upscaling but a DCDi video processing chip from Faroudja. I must say was impressed with the results. Colours and detail in general were just as good on the X5000 as they were on the Denon, which is an excellent performer in this respect. The bamboo fight scene from gorgeously shot and produced House of Flying Daggers came across beautifully, with all those greens and hazy lighting effects looking suitably realistic.
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Full 1080p HD over Wi-Fi isn't possible on an 802.11g connection, but 720p DivX HD files can often be played successfully, as long as you limit other Wi-Fi network traffic while you're playing back files. Over Ethernet, however, both 1080p and 720p file formats playback flawlessly and picture quality is just as impressive as it is with SD media. Those who prefer to stick to stereo output for their movie watching will also be pleased to discover that the X5000's video processing chip is nippy enough to eliminate the synchronisation problems that afflict many other DVD players. To check this I hooked up the HDMI cable and analogue audio outputs at the same time to compare the outputs and could hear only a very slight echo-effect - something that is more pronounced on my Denon.

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