The outer frame of the DPS-1000 is for the most part just a skeleton to hold in place the meat of the star attraction, the Onyx Media Browser software. This comes built into some Cello-brand TVs as well as the DPS-1000 and gives you access to a selection of online features.
Switching the box on for the first time gives you a good indication of the patience you’ll occasionally need to get on with this device. It takes more than a full minute to start-up to the main menu, and this happens every time the DPS-1000 is powered-up from cold – be aware if you live in a household where all your electronics are switched-off at the plug each night before bedtime.
Once you’ve made it to the main menu, possibly having made a cup of tea in the meantime, you’re shown a horizontally-scrolling menu of features with a social networking widget towards the top-right of the display. It is most charitably described as basic, featuring none of the flashy animated transitions you’d see in rivals like the Boxee Box or Western Digital Live Hub.
There are separate user accounts, allowing different members of a family to load there own preferences into the DPS-1000, but we’d have given up this customisation in an instant if the navigation could have been made less clunky. Just as the box’s hardware is primarily a framework for the Onyx Media Browser software, this software is a thin layer under which the platforms of other providers roam free. These are the most attractive elements of the DPS-1000 – the access to LoveFilm’s movie streaming, BBC iPlayer and blinkbox VOD.
LoveFilm is the latest addition to the Onyx Media Browser platform and, if you have a £9.99 or above LoveFilm account enabling movie streaming, is the best of the bunch. It’s no Netflix, which gives US users thousands of movies that can be streamed at up to 1080p resolution, but it’s fast becoming the definitive “next best thing” for UK users. It offers a couple of thousand films, streaming at just-sub-DVD quality.
Although not HD-resolution, careful management of encoding leaves LoveFilm streaming with picture quality that, while a little soft, is almost completely free of ugly digital noise and artefacting. Steaming in our tests was impressively reliable too, quick and seamless – with any pauses in playback aberrations rather than the norm. LoveFilm’s streaming film library is developing well too – it’s not packed full of the latest movies, but offers a well-balanced selection that spans from odd World films to popcorn flicks.
Browsing though the LoveFilm interface, which is not specific to the DPS-1000, is significantly slower than on a Sony PS3. Loading menus and scrolling through lists of films is punctuated with noticeable load times, seemingly thanks to the device itself rather than the bundled remote control or your internet connection. The mostly-intuitive layout and reliable streaming of the LoveFilm platform means the payoffs outweigh this element of trudge in the end though.