Review Price free/subscription
Vivadi MediaMaster MM110 Multimedia Server
Last month John cast a critical eye over the Vivadi MM200, a terrific multimedia server with a built-in 1TB hard disk that allows you to rip DVDs and do away with all those space-consuming plastic cases, as well as carrying out a wide range of other PC and AV-related functions.
But if the £780 price tag of the MM200 was slightly out of your reach, then you might want to check out this cheaper 500GB version, which is still big enough to house a substantial amount of content. It replaces the MM100, Vivadi's previous 500GB server, and offers a series of improvements over its predecessor - most significantly of which is the lower price.
In terms of looks, the two units are identical. Because it's designed to sit under the TV with your other home cinema gear, Vivadi has sensibly styled it to look like a DVD player - and a blooming gorgeous one at that. The gloss black finish oozes sophistication, the slimline dimensions make it easy to slip into your AV cabinet and when you pick it up the solid build quality is immediately apparent.
A single row of buttons adorn the front below the easy-to-read display panel, and behind the drop-down flap on the right you'll find a selection of inputs, including Compact Flash/Micro Drive, Smart Media, Memory Stick and SD/MMC card slots, S-video input, two USB ports, an IEEE 1394 Firewire port, a stereo minijack output plus line and mic inputs.
Around the back the MM110 offers a feast of other connections, including an HDMI, S-video and VGA outputs, four more USB ports, another IEEE 1394 port, coaxial digital audio output (for piping Dolby Digital and DTS to your AV receiver) and PC-style 7.1-channel surround sound outputs, for which you'll need the supplied minijack to phono cable.
There's also an Ethernet LAN port for hooking up to a home network of the Internet, but the built-in Wi-Fi functionality means you don't necessarily need it if you've got a wireless router.
But taking a look at the connections panel, we have to echo John's comment that HDMI inputs would have been a useful addition as the unit could have been used as a switcher for multiple HDMI-equipped sources - perhaps even using the Vivadi's upscaling capabilities in the process.
John also criticised the MM200 for not including a Blu-ray drive, and although we have to level the same criticism at the MM110 for only featuring a DVD/CD drive, its lower price tag makes the omission easier to bear. If a Blu-ray drive is important to you, then hold out for the MM300 which is being launched in two or three weeks' time with a £1,000 price tag. The spec is still being finalised but one thing we know is that it will come in a different case, as a Blu-ray drive won't fit into the MM110's slim frame and Blu-ray slot loaders aren't currently cost-effective.