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Vivadi MediaMaster MM320 Media Server review

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Summary

Our Score

8/10

Review Price free/subscription

The MM320 is the latest media centre PC from UK-based Vivadi, which continues its tradition of offering multi-room clients and servers for much lower prices than the likes of Imerge and Kaleidescape. Apart from the no holds barred, top-end MediaMaster Pro (which costs between £2,000 and £3,000) the MM320 is the best-specified model in the range, conveniently combining all of your home entertainment and PC needs into one smart living-room friendly box.

The MM320 comes equipped with a Blu-ray player with full 1080/24p picture quality, plus a 1TB hard-disk drive that can hold around 200 movies, 1,600 uncompressed CDs, 200,000 MP3s or 800 hours of TV recordings from the built-in twin Freeview tuners.

Unlike previous Vivadi units, which have taken a more industrial approach to external design, this model is a real beauty, sporting a gloss-black finish with a bright blue strip of light dashing across the middle. Apart from the depth measurement of 423mm, which could make it a real pain to squeeze onto a shallow shelf, the MM320 could be mistaken for a high-end DVD or Blu-ray player, while its lack of buttons and fascia clutter makes it look suitably esoteric.

On the rear panel is a decent selection of PC-style sockets – four USB ports, DVI output, 15-pin VGA, printer serial port and line in/outputs for speakers and a mic. But these are joined by a couple of home cinema-oriented sockets, namely HDMI and coaxial digital audio outputs. There’s also Ethernet port, which is essential for multi-room networking or for hooking up to the internet for BD Live access. The MM320 also ships with a Wi-Fi dongle for wireless web connection and networking.

Spec-wise, the M320 boasts a dual-core, 3GHz processor with 2GB of memory. Naturally the operating system is Windows 7, and your music, movies, photos and TV are all accessed using Media Center, which as we’ve established before is a slick, easy-to-use system. To anyone not familiar with it, the main menu uses gorgeous graphics and jazzy animations, splitting up your content into ‘My Movies’, ‘Music’ and so forth. Under the TV menu, you get access to the Recorded TV menu, a 14-day EPG and a Live TV option. If you’re browsing the menu while surfing around the menu system, the live TV picture plays in the background.

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Simon Heather

April 9, 2010, 8:48 pm

"which is legal provided they already own the disc and copy it for personal use only"





In the UK you have no legal right to make a copy of a CD or DVD that you own. This applies as much to ripping a CD using iTunes and copying to your iPod as it does to a device like this that copies DVDs. It is a common fallacy that you have the right to make a personal backup - there is no such right under UK copyright law.

Ripsnorter

April 9, 2010, 10:00 pm

So even though this thing is still a lot more expensive than PCs and standalone Blu-ray players it's actually a bit of a bargain because it's cheaper than its even more stupidly expensive rivals? R-i-g-h-t.

beardybuck

April 9, 2010, 11:46 pm

PS3 anyone?

GaryRW

April 11, 2010, 12:06 pm

I have to say I don't think this review lives up to the usual Trusted Reviews quality. Part of this is down to the product being reviewed. This is to all intents and purposes a £1300 desktop pc, pre set up to be used as a media centre.





I do not underestimate the problems there can be setting up a media centre pc - you only have to look at the HTPC sub-forum on avforums to see the difficulties involved. However, I set up a home pc for no more than £500 (I lost count in the end, as I bought bits one by one). No blu-ray drive and no total media theater included, so add another £200 at most. Although the case looks a media-type box (though not really to my taste), it's obviously fairly bog standard pc size at a depth of 40cm+ (took me a long time to find a case that was only 34cm deep). So you're not paying for the small size. I just struggle to see how you get to £1300! Only 2gb of ram as well for that as well! I am surprised that this value gap was not even hinted at in the review, let alone a clear statement saying that you are paying (well) over the odds for the (presumably) ease of set-up factor.





& moving on to the review itself, we are not told now what the dual core 3ghz processor actually is. AMD, Intel? Core i3, C2D, Athlon? There can be a big difference in performance between them. What graphics does it come with - important as it would usually be the graphics doing the video processing. OK, the people paying £1300 for this box are probably exactly the type of people who will not care what type of graphics it is using under the hood. But if it is a pure consumer, non tech review then shouldn't there have been more focus on whether it was a true out of the box experience or not to explain whether the £1300 is worth it? Even on an entirely not-techy type level, I am very surprised that with a media pc, there is no mention of how loud the box is in daily use (apologies if this is mentioned and I missed it). My box would have been even cheaper if I had gone with standard pc bits rather than angling towards low power/noise.





A fair proportion of the review seems to be reviewing WMC and mentioning standard features of windows media center rather than the box itself. Which is fine if people are not used to or have no knowledge of WMC, but I think it could have been much clearer what are standard features and what is different about this product. The only bit mentioned that did not sound default to me was the rip dvd/blu ray option. In fact, from the description, that sounds like the copy disc option you get with the "my movies" plugin (http://www.mymovies.dk) Is that the software being used? or is it something more that Vivadi have done? Just how much customisation do you get for £1300?





Oh, and all the other media player reviews on Trusted Reviews I have seen explain what file types it can play. Again, that detail is just not here. (Obviously WMC's *default* out of the box support for non MS filetypes is not that good)





I think my issue with the review is that, at the end of the review, I have no real idea what it is that I'd actually be buying. And personally, I would have pointed out that it is possible to set up this kind of box much cheaper if you have a bit of time and you know how to use google.

GaryRW

April 11, 2010, 12:11 pm

I've just read the MediaMaster Pro review - looks like it's using the same Silverstone GD04 case I used for my home build HTPC!

Keithe6e

April 12, 2010, 2:39 pm

@Simon Heather: In the UK you have no legal right to make a copy of a CD or DVD that you own.





True, governments and there back handers have always been good at taking away consumer rights. And if the law doesn't fit too make our "back hander" sponsors happy, lets amend it.





I'm sorry people, democracy as we know it is slowly been drip fed away. Unless your one of the super rich and have money to pay a scumbag politician there is little you can do about it. It's unfortunate human nature is this way, and in the past the only solution was revolutions, but that's not going to happen.

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