Vivadi MM200 Media Server - Vivadi MM200 Media Server

John Archer

By John Archer

Reviewed:

Summary

Our Score:

8

Moving at last to the rather key matter of what sort of performance levels the MM200 has to support its prodigious functionality, it's a relief to kick off in fine style with some seriously assured DVD playback. Or rather, ripped DVD playback.

For while playing discs back through the unit's disc tray certainly yields sharp, crisp, colourful, contrasty results, motion occasionally seems to suffer ever-so-slightly with judder. Whereas if you first rip a DVD to the hard drive and then play the ripped HDD version, that seems to deliver just the same high levels of detail, impressive freedom from noise and rich colour palette as the DVD deck but without the accompanying judder issues.

It's worth adding here, too, that the MM200's upscaling processing seems unusually effective with a relatively high-grade source like Pirates of the Caribbean on DVD, definitely making the picture look sharper without introducing significant amounts of nasty new video noise.

While we're on the subject of DVD playback, the MM200's built-in DTS and Dolby Digital audio decoders deserve kudos, too, for serving up their multi-channel audio platter with no serious timing or distortion issues.

The MM200 is even a respectable CD player, something I really hadn't expected given that it's basically a PC with (admittedly hefty) home entertainment knobs on. I'm not talking about truly hi-fi levels of clarity here, but there definitely isn't as much sibilance, jitter and off timing than I usually experience with PC CD playback.

As a TV tuner/PVR, the MM200 is also a real success. Its recordings, as we'd hoped, look practically indistinguishable from the original broadcasts, which is really all you need to know about them. And as a tuner it delivers digital broadcasts that look less noisy and artificial but more sharp than they do on many standalone digital TVs.

Verdict

If you're a true multimedia fiend and/or you see your future firmly allied to DVD rather than Blu-ray, the MM200 is a great, versatile and startlingly affordable solution to your disc and multimedia storage problems. The only thing that we suspect might put our readers off is the MM200's lack of Blu-ray and HD pass-through support. Needless to say, once the Blu-ray capable MM300 model is available we'll be all over it like a rash as soon as humanly possible.

MarioM

January 12, 2009, 4:32 pm

Blimey, this is so *nearly there*... but what it needs is that little push to make it worth more than the sum of its parts. Can you put a price on reducing the number of boxes and remotes?

timple

January 12, 2009, 4:44 pm

It looks fantastic - you didn't mention anything about fan noise though. How hot/ noisy does it get?





Will Apple now wake up and put a freeview PVR on to the Mac Mini?

timple

January 12, 2009, 5:20 pm

Can you provide the full PC specs in the feature table (processor, memory, graphics card) etc so we can compare value with a standard media pc?

Edlem

January 12, 2009, 7:02 pm

Seeing as this is called a media server, why does the review not even mention how well it streams audio/media?

Keithe6e

January 12, 2009, 7:58 pm

Nice review, but like mentioned above does seem to be missing some basic specs. eg. How many Tuners does this have, if it was just a single then that would be a real shame. Whats the GFX card, if its a Gefore 8 series and above, the purevideo decoder gives some really nice up-scaling.

Jay Werfalli

January 12, 2009, 10:14 pm

To answer your questions, John has asked Vivadi for more details on the processor and graphics card so we'll update the spec table as soon as it arrives.





John also states in the review that the MM200 is 'nothing short of exemplary when it comes to accessing, storing and playing back multimedia files' - a comment intended to cover its streaming capabilities. Apologies if this wasn't obvious enough.





It has two Freeview tuners.





And finally, regarding fan noise, while the MM200 runs very noisily for a few seconds when you first turn it on, it calms down to ultimately not being substantially noisier than a Sky HD receiver. It's certainly no Xbox 360, at any rate...

GherkingTR

January 13, 2009, 12:09 am

Hmmm, looks like one of Hiper's HTPC cases, but rebranded. Oh wait, it is!





I built an earlier model for a friend, and would do it again in a second if I had the cash to replace my old shuttle system. Beware of that top vent though, the one I built died after whisky seeped through and met with the motherboard.


Incredibly cramped and tricky to put together, so a ready-built unit is ideal!


Great review, I think this is the closest any chassis has come to fitting into the living room alongside dvd players.

GaryRW

January 13, 2009, 2:17 am

Strange - was only saying to a mate yesterday that I thought we'd be seeing dvd player sized (well, ish....) computer/media player/freeview box/pvr/everything soon.





I reckon these will be very popular, very quickly. Now if windows 7 media center ups the ante, then could be on a winner. (Wonder how well the new windows version of XBMC would work on this...)

Edlem

January 13, 2009, 1:52 pm

"John also states in the review that the MM200 is 'nothing short of exemplary when it comes to accessing, storing and playing back multimedia files' - a comment intended to cover its streaming capabilities. Apologies if this wasn't obvious enough."





Not so much a case of how obvious the statement was, more that it wasn't very meaningful. It'd have been useful to know for instance what media was streamed (audio, video, hd?) and how (wifi or wired, what receiver was used, etc).





This may well be a fantastic piece of kit you could use as a media server to provide content to your whole house, or it might just be a reasonably nice windows Media Centre box like a number of others. Right now, I've not got a scooby which it is.

timple

January 13, 2009, 3:44 pm

@GaryRw





I've had the same feeling too - but it may not be windows pcs under the tellys - many of the top end PVRs just need iplayer, web function and they are there as well.





Alternatively Sony will do the obvious (or smart) thing and incorporate the PVR function they currently sell as an add-on for the PS3 into the next hardware revision of the PS3 (and hopefully make it look more like a DVD player but with the build quality of the current ps3).





Also Apple could do something more bold with the Mac Mini.





2009 will be the year of the integrated box!

andychamb

January 13, 2009, 7:00 pm

Yep, definately a Hiper Media Centre. I should know I have one under my TV. I built it for about 𧹈 18 months ago using cheapish components with a 250Gb HD. Works great, was quite tricky to build but I managed it even with my sausage fingers! Nice looking, nobody ever guesses its a PC and its not much louder than my Sky HD Box as mentioned above.

Jay Werfalli

January 14, 2009, 4:58 pm

*Update*





The processor used in this case is a dual core AMD 4850e (2 x 2.5GHz). In other models, a 5050e (2 x 2.6GHz).





The graphics sub system is based on an ATI Radeon X1250.

alex novotny

January 15, 2009, 3:50 pm

If I bought this unit in the UK could I use it in Spain? Here we have TDT. Can someone help please?

Moko Donovan

March 30, 2009, 6:22 pm

can i use this in nigeria? how many tvs can i connect this unit to, or how many vivadi mm 200 can serve over a hundred tvs

eduardo alvarado

October 9, 2009, 8:07 pm

where can I buy this in USA preferable??? And if not possible I understand, please let me know wherever anyway.

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