Crystal Acoustics PicoHD5.1 – Playback, Value and Verdict

John Archer

By John Archer



  • Recommended by TR
PicoHD5.1 Front Connectivity


Our Score:


Due to the inevitably small size of the IR sensor on the PicoHD5.1’s front edge, it has to be said that remote control operation can be very unresponsive unless you’re sat at just the right range and height. Not ideal if you’ve got a lot of files to sift through.

The great thing about the PicoHD5.1, though, is that it does exactly what it says on the tin. First, where video is concerned, it handled absolutely everything we threw at it, including an MP4 film trailer, H.264 movies from our HD camcorder, an old bit of footage from a Canon MV700i mini-DV camcorder shoved through iMovie in the m4V format, JPEGs, GIFs, BMPs, MP3s, DivX and Xvid files... even FLAC audio, which often catches out Smart TVs. What’s more, we shoved all of these various file types onto a single USB stick, and the PicoHD5.1 had no trouble separating them all into their proper folders and parsing them ‘on the fly’.

PicoHD5.1 Rear Connectivity

The video from all sources appeared in 1080p (upscaled if necessary) as we’d requested in the PicoHD5.1’s settings box. What’s even more surprising about this is that the upscaling system built into the PicoHD5.1 actually seems to work surprisingly well. Even when unleashed on a really quite ugly bit of standard definition home video, it delivered it at 1080p/50Hz without making it look significantly worse in terms of noise or blurring. And the upscaling is capable of making strong quality sources look slightly sharper without exaggerating noise or making the images look processed. Despite this, in an ideal world the unit might have provided an ‘auto’ or ‘native’ output setting, where the natural resolution of the source was always output. But this is a small niggle, really.

Next, there’s that 5.1 audio to consider. Two of our clips featured 5.1 tracks, one in DTS and one in Dolby Digital 5.1. And with the white lead of the provided RCA cabling connected to the coaxial input of our AV receiver, the 5.1 audio information duly arrived without glitching or lag, and actually sounding rather good.

PicoHD5.1 Front Connectivity

It was also handy to find that as well as supporting slideshow playback of any photos you feed it, with the option to adjust the interval between photos, the PicoHD5.1 also lets you rotate and zoom in on pictures.

The only issue we had with the unit aside from the narrow angle of remote control reception was that it populated the content lists with curious, unplayable ‘ghost’ secondary versions of the actual files.

At just a penny under £40 the PicoHD5.1 is an absolute steal for a media player with 1080p video and extensive format support. The only player that comes close in terms of value is the Seagate FreeAgent GoFlex, which offers networking and more connectivity for just £11 more. Still, if you're after a media player that fits in your pocket, the PicoHD5.1 is an unrivalled option.


Although its remote control problems and ‘ghost’ file issues detract from the cleverness and slickness of everything else about the PicoHD5.1, it’s still a terrifically useful little device. After all, as well as bringing multimedia capabilities to old or cheap TVs, its diddy dimensions also make it a brilliant device to take with you on your travels, allowing you to watch material from a variety of media on the TV in your hotel or holiday cottage.

Overall Score


Scores In Detail

  • Design 8
  • Features 8
  • Performance 8
  • Value 10


May 12, 2011, 5:47 pm

Impressively packed device by any standard. But i would like to point out a small but hilarious typo in specifications

Physical Specifications
Weight 60kg


May 13, 2011, 1:22 pm

How do you power this thing? I can see a DC input on the back, but there is no mention here on whether this device needs this input or not (It would appear to be obvious that it does, but I hope you can see what I mean)

Related to this, please could you put up a photograph of the power brick next to the media player. It's all well and good saying the media player fits in the palm of your hand and is portable, but if the power brick and cable is twice the size or more of the main unit, that detracts somewhat from the portability!

Not even the official website/product page for this device has any pictures of the power supply which causes alarm bells for me...

Crystal Acoustics

May 13, 2011, 4:07 pm

Hi there!

Well, you are right indeed! We have taken care of this anyway... :-)

You can see the photo by copying and pasting this link in your browser's address field:

It has been added in the photo gallery, under the main product picture.

Many thanks for your feedback!

Best regards,

Crystal Acoustics

simon jackson

May 13, 2011, 9:19 pm

There's one thing i don't really get about devices like this. Do there exist websites from which one can legally purchase and download movies or tv programmes in full HD (and in 5.1), without DRM which I'm guessing would be a no-no on this device, to then copy onto usb sticks or memory cards or the like? Because otherwise, I'm not really sure where they envisage the content coming from (other than the obvious and unmentionable :P).

Despite being a massive computer nerd, i've never really looked for services like the one i describe. I still watch most of my home movies on dvd/blu ray, or streamed via something like love-film's online service. Next week im travelling, so i actually looked for legal movie download services so i could stick something on my laptop to watch on the plane (its an ultra portable without a dvd drive), but the best i could find was something like blinkbox, which is only SD, which costs a few quid per "rental" and which does indeed feature DRM (the files are WMV files which acquire a licence which lasts until the end of the rental period when you try and play them, thus one can attempt to play the file before getting on the aircraft then it has a valid licence for the next 24 hours).

If there are other HD movie download services where one can legally get hold of a DRM-free standalone file, i would definitely be interested to use them....


May 13, 2011, 10:19 pm

The simple answer to that is "archiving".

Whenever I buy a CD, the first thing I do is rip it to FLAC and store the CD somewhere. The convenience of just double clicking a file is incomparable to finding the CD, loading it and playing.

Now, extend that to DVDs, and you'll notice that this little box being reviewed supports VOB containers, meaning that you can rip the entire contents of your DVDs to a large external storage drive so that whenever you want to watch a film you double click the file.

Obviously you get some people who then sell the DVD or share the rip online, but not everyone.

America has a personal backup clause that legally permits this sort of archiving, however the UK does not. Technically in the UK, if you buy a CD, you must pay for a second copy of the songs to have MP3s on your PC. You must then also legally pay for a THIRD copy of the song to put on your MP3 player.

Anyway, short version: The purpose of this media device is to play personal backups of your hard-copy media in whatever format you happened to back it up in. Some countries have legal provisions that allow this, others do not.


May 14, 2011, 10:41 pm

surely this is just a rebadged sumvision cyclone micro 2 that goes for £20 less.i guess that would make it an 11 out of 10.


May 14, 2011, 11:59 pm

This is a rebadged Sumvision Micro 2 which is £10 cheaper


May 15, 2011, 12:21 pm

oddly enough we discussed this on another forum,the audio options are weak,connect it to a pj and your stumped it really needs phono.

garbage shr

May 15, 2011, 3:43 pm

i was lookin for an external harddrive mayb 1 tb or 2tb i know i may b askin a stupid question but can these ultraportable media players be used as an external harddrive to store files and to hook up onto a pc?? or do u hav to hav a proper tele? and if you can store files what about the capacity?? how many gigs

Crystal Acoustics

May 16, 2011, 6:07 pm

Hi all!

After reading all your valuable and much appreciated feedback, we should make the same clarifications that were needed on many other posts regarding the PicoHD5.1.

It is true that there are some counterfeit products in the market that although similar in looks, are not equally capable in terms of hardware performance and file compatibility. The main feature, unique to the PicoHD5.1 that many of you fail to notice, is its ability to output the exact digital stream of Dolby AC3 and DTS soundtracks from movie files, thanks to a COAXIAL AUDIO-OUT feature, designed exclusively by Crystal Acoustics. This allows you to enjoy true 5.1 audio from your Home Theater system (through your A/V Receiver, HTIB e.t.c)

This is a feature that no other "similar" player can offer at the moment. It of course is capable to downmix any Dolby or DTS track down to two channels as well (stereo downmix). On the other hand, Crystal Acoustics has ensured that the PicoHD5.1 does not have the file limitations of "similar" products. As a result, it can output FullHD 1080p video even from the most demanding video files, including .mkv. For the rest of its extensive file compatibility, please scan through its technical specs. You will easily conclude it far exceeds any competitor in its category.

Don't hesitate to contact us for further info!

Best regards,


justin steggles

May 24, 2011, 12:14 am

Shame you can't buy it anywhere. Could have used this on my Hols next week....


June 12, 2011, 5:05 pm

I been useing this device for a few days now and one thing that gets on my back is the juttering playback with MKV formats. For some reason the video playback is a bit stuttery. I am using HDMI connection at full setting through a hard disk. I might try a USB stick or flash SDHC card and see if that sorts it out.


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