I’m a TV junkie. Even worse is the fact that I’m addicted to reality TV shows.
I don’t like to miss any episodes of such cerebral classics as Survivor, Amazing Race,
American Next Top Model, The Apprentice and way too many others… When I happen to miss
an episode due to a Tivo glitch, power outage or whatever, I have to resort to finding
the missing episode on the net. Once I locate and download the episode, I have to figure out
a way to get it to my 65″ RPTV in the living room. Until now, I’ve been using my iPod video
and the Marware iPod Dock
for this purpose. Not the best solution by any means, but it did work. I was excited when I recently
had the opportunity to try another solution: the Mvix MV-5000U Multimedia player from MvixUSA.
I had high hopes that it would become my new living room media player of choice.
The MV-5000U is a stand alone device that plays video, audio and images through your TV or car
(more about the car option later). The unit requires an IDE hard drive to be used for media storage. Typically you
buy the MV-5000U and then the hard drive separately. You can purchase the MV-5000U with a hard drive
already installed, but you can save yourself a few bucks by just buying one elsewhere. Installing it in the
player is a snap. No tools are required.
TV System Compatibility: NTSC / PAL / AUTO
Video and Audio Output: RCA L/R, Coaxial, Optical(5.1ch), RCA Y, Pr, Pb, S-Video, IR-Ext
PC Interface: USB 2.0 (Backward Compatible with USB 1.1)
Subtitle Format Compatibility: SMI, SRT, SUB
Video Formats: MPEG1, MPEG2, MPEG4, AVI, DivX3.11, 4x, 5x, XviD, DVD(IFO, VOB), ISO
Screen Aspect Ratio: 16:9 / 4:3 Letter Box / Pan Scan
Audio Formats: AC3, MP2, MP3, DTS pass through, WMA, OGG, M3U
Digital Image Formats: JPEG
LCD display: 128 X 64 mm
UP Scaling: 1920 X 1080i, 1280 X 720p
Dimension: 7.5 x 6 x 2.5 inches
Power: External 12V DC Adapter
The player is a good looking vertical standing tower with a small backlit LCD, LEDs, several backlit interface buttons
and an IR port on the front. The design and size allow this device to fit in with most home theater equipment.
If you didn’t purchase the MV-5000U with a hard drive pre-installed, you’ll first need to install one, before you can
begin using the player. The folks at Mvix sent me a unit without a drive, but I still had the 80gb IDE drive that I purchased for
the Brando USB 2.0 to SATA/IDE Cable review.
Installing it into the MV-5000U was a very simple task.
One side of the tower slides off to reveal the empty drive bay, power and IDE cables.
Just plug the appropriate cables into the appropriate connectors on the hard drive and then position it into the open bay.
You don’t even need to monkey around with the slave / master jumper settings.
Here you see the hard drive connected and seated in place.
To secure the drive into the bay, you tighten down two screws. One screw is located on the outside of the chassis and the other
is located between the bay and case. Depending on how large your fingers are, you may need a pair of pliers to help turn the
screw between the bay and the case. It’s a bit of a tight fit getting your fingers in that area. All that is left now is to
put the case back together, copy some content onto the drive and then connect the player to your TV.
Using the included USB cable, I connected the player to my iMac and copied over several folders of MP3 music, JPG images and video files.
The video files were a combination of TV shows that I downloaded from the internet (in AVI format) and video content that I had captured
using the Sanyo VPC-HD1 video camera
(in MPEG4 format). When you connect the MV-5000U to your computer, it shows up like any other external drive that you can
drag and drop files to. Once the files were
copied, I disconnected from the computer and connected the device to my living room TV.
The MV-5000U ships with a standard Red, White, Yellow RCA cable. Depending on your TV, you can also connect via S-Video or component.
For my testing, I used the supplied RCA cable and an S-video cable that I already happened to have. The first time I powered the player on,
the picture it displayed on my TV was impossible to view due to the fact that it was rolling. I thought there was something wrong with the
device, and proceed to unplug and replug everything back in. The same results occurred the second time I powered on. I was close to
giving up when I saw the SETUP button on the included remote control.
Let me take a second to mention that the included IR remote control is very nice. It actually has real keys; not crappy membrane
keys like those found on some cheapo remotes that have been included with other media players I’ve reviewed in the past.
So anyway, I pressed the SETUP button and managed to see that the video out was set to PAL instead of NTSC. Somehow
I managed to make the correction (while the screen was rolling) and voila, the rolling stopped. Yay!
There are 3 different setup screens. Here you see the Audio / Video setup screen and the various settings that you have the ability to adjust.
Here is the Misc setup screen.
The Firmware setup screen displays the current firmware information and allows you to make updates. Firmware can be downloaded
from the Mvix web site and copied to the drive using the USB cable. New versions of the firmware will allow for new video/
audio formats to be added in the future.
After you are satisfied with the settings, press the SETUP button a 2nd time and you’ll be taken to the main screen that lists
all the files on the drive.
By repeatedly pressing the Media button on the remote control, you can filter the file listing to just show videos, music,
image or all files. As you scroll through the files, the current one selected will display the size at the bottom left
corner of the screen. Pressing Play will initiate the playback of the selected file.
I was quite happy with the image quality when playing back video. Here you see the paused image of a TV show (Prison Break …
one of my faves). The picture is crisp and clear. Of course the quality will depend on the source. If you have low resolution
files, the picture will not look as good.
Pressing the Info button on the remote will display information on the video and audio formats for the currently playing file.
Although I was mainly interested in playing video files with this device, I did test out the digital audio playing
capability. The MV5000-U can play several different formats, but I did all my tests with .MP3s since that is the
format that my entire collection is stored as.
I don’t have any real criticism with the way this player handles audio files. I found the sound quality to be adequate. Although
I was just listening through my TV and not through a stereo… The only problem I noticed was a couple of times
the song information on the screen did not match up with the currently playing song. Must be a bug in the software.
In addition to using this player with your TV, you can also use it in your car. Well, you can if you purchase the
optional car kit. The $24.99 kit includes a power adapter and an external IR. Using the built in FM transmitter
(which can be set to 87.7MHz, 88.00MHz, 88.1MHz, 88.4MHz, 88.5MHz, 88.8MHz, 88.9MHz or 89.2MHz respectively)
you can bring along your entire music collection and play them through your car stereo. The only problem is that
you’ll have to navigate through the collection using the small LCD on the face of the player… But it is doable.
One other feature that this player can do is to display JPG images on your TV screen.
Selecting an image file and pressing Play will start a slide show. The picture will change to the next one in the
directory after several seconds (the time delay can be adjusted in the Setup screens). There is also the ability to play music in the background of your slide shows.
As you can see, the picture quality isn’t bad at all.
The MV5000-U is an easy to use, easy to setup multimedia playback device. For the most part, I did enjoy using it and I
really only have 2 main complaints. My first complaint is that it does not have WiFi or LAN access built in. As a result,
you have to either bring a notebook computer into your living room to copy files to it, or you have to unhook it
from your home theater and take it into your computer room. I’m lazy and would rather not have to do this every
time I have new content that I want to access. The other complaint is with the built in fan. It’s a bit louder than
I would like. As long as I turn the volume up on the music or video that I’m watching, I tend not to notice it,
but in a very quiet room, it might become annoying for some people. Despite these two gripes, I will continue
to use the MV5000-U, until I find a different device that solves those two issues.