The user interface on the Sumvision Cyclone Micro 3 has had a minor re-jig compared to that on the previous Micro players. It now shows background images on the various menu pages. However, the menu screens remain quite basic. The home screen simply has links to take you to the files on the internal storage, USB drives or the memory card slot, and beneath this there's a link to the set-up menu. In the set-up menu you can change stuff like the video output resolution or choose to have audio routed to the digital output for surround sound, instead of it just getting routed directly to your TV.
Selecting the internal storage, memory card or USB drive in the menu takes you to a file browser-type screen where you can choose the media that you want to play. You can sort your files by music, photos or movies using the dedicated buttons on the bottom of the remote, but these are really just file-type filters, that hide the other media types in the file list. Nevertheless, moving through large libraries of files on USB drives is still pretty quick as you can page up and down the file list using the track skip buttons.
The big advantage of the Micro 3 over many of the other cheap players we've used is the sheer range of file types that it supports. On the picture side it can be used to view JPEG, BMP, PNG and GIF files and for music it supports MP3, FLAC, WMA and OGG files. It's the video support that's most impressive, though. The long list of formats supported includes H.264, H.263, WMV, Xvid, RMVB, MPEG1, MPEG2, MPEG4, MKV and MOV, and it'll play most of these at resolutions of up to 1920 x 1080 at 30fps.
During our testing of the player, we chucked a large number of files at it in a variety of different formats and it managed to play every one of them without any problems. Video quality was also remarkably crisp and clean for such a budget machine. Also, unlike a lot of these cheaper players it can also downmix DTS and AC3 audio soundtracks to stereo and output them to your TV via either HDMI or its analogue audio outputs.
The fast forward and rewind controls are also very responsive and you can skip through movies at speeds from x1.5 up to x32. Using the Goto button on the remote allows you to jump directly to a specific time in a video by typing in a time manually via the remote's keypad. Another neat feature is that if you're watching a video and stop before the end, when you load that video up again the player will remember where you left off and ask you whether you want to resume playback or instead start again from the beginning. Subtitles are also supported in SSA, SUB, SRT formats and you can change the size and colour of the subtitle to make them more legible on your telly.
Unfortunately, the music playing features are very limited. Basically, you can just select a file of folder of tunes that you want to play and that's it. It doesn’t sort tracks by artist or album name, and it also lacks any support for playlists or album art.
The photo mode is a little bit more advanced, though. The player shows preview thumbnails of images as you select them in the file browser and if you add an MP3 into a picture folder it will be used as the background music during slideshows as long as you turn this feature on in the settings menu. When the Micro 3 is showing slide shows it also has a number of different transition effects that it cycles through to give your slideshows a bit more impact.
The Cyclone Micro 3 really does punch above its weight when it comes to movie playback, simply because it plays lots of different formats so flawlessly while also being able to downmix DTS and AC3 soundtracks for stereo output. Sure, the remote could be better and the user interface could be a bit more refined, but thanks to that robust file format support we still think it's one of the best, budget standalone media players around.