Earlier this year we reviewed Crystal Acoustics’ PicoHD5.1, a pocket-sized device that allows you to play multimedia content through your TV or home cinema system. This remarkably useful gizmo impressed us with its file flexibility, 5.1 audio support and travel-friendly dimensions.
Now Crystal Acoustics has followed it up with the MediaMatchBox, which once again bridges the gap between your PC and TV, allowing you to watch all your new-fangled file formats on TVs that don’t have their own Smart features or media playback capabilities. There’s no on-board hard disk or networking functionality – it’s merely a gateway, offering slots and sockets for you to connect your storage media.
The MediaMatchBox is £10 more expensive than its predecessor, but its maker reckons this version is even better due to its wider video format support and a number of other key improvements.
The unit itself is a different shape than its processor – a little longer and narrower, but the same thickness (or 8.5cm x 5.4cm x 1.6cm to be precise). While bigger than a real matchbox, its diddy dimensions are the perfect size for slipping in your pocket and taking on holidays or business trips.
On the downside build quality has taken a severe hit. Gone is the robust aluminium casing of the PicoHD5.1 and in comes a light, plasticky enclosure that doesn’t exude the same sense of quality – although the lighter weight (40g as opposed to the Pico’s 60g) makes it even more portable.
Another design improvement is the useful cluster of buttons added to the bottom, which allows you to control the onscreen menus. The glossy black casing also features a power light on the front, plus four small pads and ventilation holes on the bottom.
Connections include an HDMI v1.3 output, which will display movies and photos on your TV in any resolution up to 1080/24p, but the big news is that the device can play Blu-ray ISO files with full HD audio support, which is another major advantage over the PicoHD5.1. Simply hook up the HDMI to your AV receiver, select ‘Raw’ in the audio menu and it’ll pass on the Dolby True HD or DTS HD Master Audio bitstream.
Joining HDMI is the all-important USB port, a slot for SD/SDHC cards and an AV socket that outputs composite video and analogue stereo audio. Downmixed Dolby Digital and DTS are output from the analogue port.
The MediaMatchBox is powered by the supplied mains adapter, which is as big as the device itself. Having to carry this around and find a spare plug slightly impinges on its portability but it’s not a huge burden.