Toys, Toys, Toys…

by Damian on November 1, 2011 · 19 comments

in News

So many new toys, so little time :)

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Hi, my name is Damian, and I'm tech gadget addict! Although I always had some interest in technology, it wasn't until I got my EX470 and more importantly found, that my interest became an addiction. My goal, aside from world domination and to see the Mets/Broncos win another championship, is to set up the perfect digital home where all my media is available at the click of a button. When I am not writing for you can find me over at my blog at or follow me on twitter


ZimTommy November 2, 2011 at 4:10 am

Ha, looks awesome!

Damian November 2, 2011 at 6:58 am

Haha, and teh Mede8er is the only one I have even taken out of the box yet. Dealing with a little bit of a head cold so a little on the slow side right now!! Hopefully this weekend I can get back into full gear and start working on some reviews :)

Steve November 2, 2011 at 11:43 am

Can’t wait to see some reviews!

Jim November 2, 2011 at 1:25 pm

If you need to offload some of these to me, I’d be happy to help. Because you are sick, of course… :-)

Damian November 2, 2011 at 1:54 pm

I am physically, not mentally sick ;)

Bram November 3, 2011 at 6:15 am

Hi Damian,

Nice toys you have there :). I have 1 big question for you:
What do you prefer these days: HTPC or mediaplayer (A-300, mede8er,..)?

I own a popcorn A-110, but am looking for an update. However after reading millions of forums posts I am still not any wiser. It seems all solutions have good points but are missing 1 or more features. XBMC needs workaround for bitstreaming, A-300 misses 3D support…

I would like to make sure that my machine delivers the best possible video AND audio, not one of both. (it would be a shame not to use my denon as the bitstream decoder)

Damian November 3, 2011 at 6:32 am

Hi Bram,

Great question, however there is no right answer.

As far as my personal setup, I originally was using HTPCs solely (which at the time I had full HD Audio support before it became more common in the standalone media players). My platform of choice is/was Windows 7 + Media Browser. However, even though I still have two HTPCs in my house, I primarily use media players (such as the Dune and PCH). I love HTPCs, the flexibility and speed you get with them. However, there were too many instabilities given that my wife uses the players just as much as me, whether it is for watching her shows or putting movies on for the boys. Since I started using Dunes/PCHs primarily I no longer get calls at work from my wife about various issues.

So really I would break it down into the following:

- How important is reliability/stability? If it was just me in my house I would probably still be using an HTPC, but given that it also involves my family my priorities have to change

- Exactly what features/functions are most important to you (i.e. online content, feature rich and flexible UI, plug n play, etc…)

- Cost

- etc….

Hopefully this helps out a little. Don’t hesitate to hit me up with any other questions you have here


Bram November 3, 2011 at 9:50 am

Thx Damian, it confirms what I concluded already.

1 more question, that is actually hard to find an answer for:
all the reviews seem to focus on video, but what do you consider as the nicest GUI for audio (albums, mixCDs, double CDs, playlists, podcasts)

Damian November 3, 2011 at 11:56 am

When it comes to music playback that is usually a forgotten/secondary featury for many of the media players. There are probably better, more robust solutions on an HTPC. To be honest though I use Sonos for all my music so I don’t really have much experience playing back music via a player connected to my tv.

580guy November 12, 2011 at 2:05 pm

I still like my HTPC. Also have a Network Media Tank for the Bedroom TV.
All ethernet, no wireless.

I guess I am glad my hearing doesn’t allow me to tell the difference between DTS and DTSMA!!

Sure have spent enough time trying to hear the difference, but finally figured out I can’t! (Too many hours flying airplanes!!)

So digital Coax for me!!!

Comp1962 November 12, 2011 at 3:36 pm

For me I am just happy to be able to hear sound. While I do have surround systems I very rarely turn them on. After spending around 30 yrs in manufacturing facilities I am fortunate to still have good hearing. I know this because I can hear things that my staff have a hard time hearing.

Now if I ever get into the stuff Damian gets into with that HiDef Bitrate stuff I think I will be doomed because I am not so certain I will be able to tell the difference myself. So I am just happy to hear sound and if it sounds good then its simply good enough for me but video quality is more important even with my failing vision.

580guy November 13, 2011 at 1:25 pm

Yep, can’t see any more either!

Think of all the money I am saving! Technology has exceeded the capability of my senses!!

But it sure looks cool in your living room!!

Steve November 3, 2011 at 7:51 am


Have you ever thought of putting together a spreadsheet with all of these boxes? Putting together a list of differentiating features and being able to compare which units have them might help people decide which box is going to best fit their needs.

Don’t get me wrong, I love reading your reviews and fully appreciate all of your hard work (and incurred expenses). It just seems like there are a growing number of these streaming boxes coming out and it doesn’t seem like there is a running comparison like this anywhere. ….at least that I know of.

Damian November 3, 2011 at 11:58 am


I have actually had that on my list of to dos. Unfortunately time has been at a premium of late, so I have fallen a bit behind on my list. At some point I would like to put something together, preferably sooner then later.


Comp1962 November 3, 2011 at 7:13 pm

Damian with all those new toys and only so many rooms to install and play with them how many additions have you add to your house? You point about certain devices being wife friendly is of course very important and the simpler things are to operate is important. How much input does your wife offer to assist you commenting on the simplicity of use with all the devices you have gotten to play with?

Damian November 4, 2011 at 6:25 am

Funny enough, I just had some new cat6 wiring delivered yesterday so I can wire my guest room this weekend :) That is where one of the players will be going. I have my Elliptical machine in that room so when I do cardio I have just been connecting my EeePad Tablet to the TV and watching my movies via Remote Potato, but a wired option would be better.

The wife has no input in the sense that she just uses whatever player I have set up. However, I rarely ever leave players I am testing for her to use, so she pretty much solely uses the two Dunes I have set up. She just thinks it funny when I get shipments directly from Hong Kong lol

Comp1962 November 4, 2011 at 3:33 pm

I prefer hardwire connections vs wireless myself and encourage others to stay hardwired but at times wireless is necessary for some. I think Remote Potato is awesome and was well received by those who helped me test it out initially. They just call it StevesFlicks now.

The simplicity factor of the various devices you are currently testing I think would be interesting which is why I asked about input from your wife. I think this is important for well users like me who just want to use a device see good smooth picture quality and sound as well. Of course I am not into the highend bitstreaming as you are, most of the time I just watch movies from the computer in the bedroom and rarely from the big TV in the living room. Funny thing is my dogs enjoy watching movies more than I do.

Damian November 8, 2011 at 9:05 am

Well, the cat6 wiring was a success. Couple bumps in the road though (missed my measurements and was drilling directly into the stud when I was in the attic, and when I say stud I mean the piece of lumber!). Once I sorted that out the wall in the guest room had a stud running horizontally right in the middle of the wall which was odd since there is no closet on the other side. I have to cut a small hole in the drywall right above that stud, drill a hole in teh stuff so I could then fish the wire through. Aside from my ninja like reflexes in the attic it went fairly smooth.

I generally try not to subject my wife to any of the testing, especially since the last thing I need is to get phone calls at work (that is the reason why I moved away from HTPCs lol). I have a good enough idea from having her test enough back in the day what is needed. Also, setting up in the guest room and the playroom all I have is just a tv, so no fancy audio, the most important part becomes having proper downmix to stereo

Comp1962 November 8, 2011 at 2:13 pm

Well if you want a challenge you should try getting my mother to use something that does not have a picture menu or manual. Yes um um um my mother is technologically retarded. I would challenge any company to make a product that someone could use with little to no instructions. Maybe one day this will happen but I tell you honestly when that day arrives I will buy a device and personally drive it to MA and see if it can stand up to the test of my mother.

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