However, the Vivadi’s picture quality is superb. We watched Lost In Translation – ripped onto the MS104’s hard-disk from DVD and stored in the My Movies library – on a Pioneer KURO plasma. The image was upscaled to 1080p by SimHD, which is part of ArcSoft Total MediaTheatre 3, the software used to play movies.
SimHD features a comparison mode that displays non-upscaled pictures on the left and upscaled pictures on the right, and you can definitely see the improvements. The shadows and features on Bill Murray’s face in the 1080p pictures look much crisper and clearly defined, without any signs of jaggies or other upscaling artefacts.
Blu-ray discs ripped to the hard-disk look equally impressive. Hitch is displayed with smooth natural colours and excellent detail insight. We also loaded up the Blu-ray version of The Dark Knight on the local MediaMaster client and it looked fantastic, eking out every last scrap of detail and giving the large scale IMAX scenes the sort of depth and three-dimensionality that you’d expect from a good-quality standalone player.
The only bum note was with our Silicon Optix HQV DVD, which we ripped to the hard-disk and played back at 1080p. The results weren’t particularly impressive – the jaggies test exhibits significant juddering and stepping on the rotating bar and flag tests. It had similar problems with the diagonal filtering test on the Blu-ray HQV disc, displaying prominent stepping on the rotating edges.
These shortcomings certainly aren’t a deal-breaker, given that it doesn’t appear to have much of an impact on real-world movie viewing, but it doesn’t instil complete confidence in the quality of the onboard video processing.
On the plus side, the Vivadi coped admirably with the Film Resolution Loss test, smoothly reproducing the pan across Raymond James stadium and keeping the upper tier of seats looking sharp and steady.
It’s also worth noting that the MediaMasters can be used as regular PCs, a role they carry out brilliantly – for that purpose you get an easy-to-use wireless keyboard.
Other nifty features include the ability to access the unit from anywhere in the world over a standard broadband connection, plus the MediaServer will automatically backup your content on a daily basis – including content stored on all connected MediaMasters and even laptops or desktop PCs if required – which will allow full recovery in the event of a hard drive failure.
Vivadi’s components lack the panache and sophistication of pricier products from the multi-room big boys, and there are one or two operational and picture hiccups, but Vivadi’s system gets it right where it matters, providing a slick, quick and reliable way of sharing content around the house for a relatively reasonable price.