Back in April I had the chance to review the Mede8er MED500X2, which is based on the Realtek 1185 chip. Today I will be taking a closer look at the Mede8er MED1000X3D. In many respects it is nearly identical to the 500X2. However, instead of the 1185 chip it is running with the 1186 chip, which means Blu ray 3D support. OK, enough boring stuff, let’s get down and dirty
Price: USD 225
- Full 3D - HDMI 1.4 - Play 3D BD-ISO
- Complete Aluminium Die Cast Casing - Fanless Design
- Mede8er XBay - Easy Hard Drive Change - Up to 3TB
- Active Backlit Remote with Self Learning Hot Button
- Mede8er Developed Movie & Music Jukebox - Database Driven
- Web Services, YouYube XL, Web Browser
- Built in Mede8er Favorites Manager
- Community Skins and Easy Backdrop Customization
- HD Audio - 7.1 DTSMA & Dolby True HD
- Fast USB3.0 & Gbit Network Port
- Music JukeBox Local & Network Support
- Built In View Manager (5 Custom views)
- Compatible with Mac HFS+ USB Drives
- Movie XML Med Data in Media Library
- Video JukeBox XML Search Function
- Hard Drive Spin Down Function
- Alpha Search in Media Library
- Internal Hard Drive Up to 3TB
- Internet Media Streams
- Social Media
- Watches Indicator
- Built in Web Browser
- Optional Wi-Fi USB / PCIe
- Internet Radio (SHOUTcast)
- Full Parental Control on Folders
- SD Card slot / Sony Pro Duo Card Slot
- Samba Server - NAS Storage
- Photo slide show with background music
- Subtitle: SRT, SSA, SUB, SMI format
- Network - Ethernet 10/100/1000* Mbps port
- Processor: RDT1186 – 750Mhz – 512MB SLC Flash – 512MB DDR3 SDRAM
- Video Fomats Supported: AVI/BDMV Light/BDISO Light/MKV/TS/TP/TRP/M2TS/MPG/MP4/MOV/M4V/VOB/ISO/DAT/WMV/ASF/RM/RMVB/FLV resolution up to 720p/1080i/1080p
- 3D Video: Full 3D/Side By Side/Top & Bottom/Frame Sequential/Frame Packing.
- Audio Codec Supported: MP3/MP2/OGG Vorbis/PCM/LPCM/AAC/RA/Dolby True HD – DTS MA Passthrough on HDMI/AC3 – DTS 5.1/Flac up to 24bit 192Khz/WAV/WMA Standard (DRM & Advanced Profile not Supported)
- Photo format Supported: JPEG/BMP/GIF/TIFF/PNG
- File System Supported: FAT32/NTFS/HFS+ (MAC)
- Video Output Resolution: NTSC/PAl/480P/576P/720P/1080i/1080p/1080p 24Hz input
- Output: HDMI 1.4/Component Video/Composite Video/ Stereo RCA/SD/SDHC/Sony Pro Duo Card Slot/SPDIF Optical/Co-Ax Digital/Slave Port USB 3.0/Host USB USB 2.0 x2/IR Jack
Yup, it’s a box.
Of course the first thing to notice is the shape of the X3D, which appears to be something out of a sci fi movie. It is a design that for most people they will either love or hate. Those who want players that fit in with the more traditional a/v components probably won’t care for the UFO design. I actually liked the design being outside the box, but no one ever said I was normal! As you can see from the top of the X3D, there are several buttons that can be used for navigation and playback if you don’t have the remote control handy.
Towards the back right are two USB 2.0 host ports and a connector for an optional wi fi antenna.
To the back left is an SD slot and USB 3.0 slave connection
To the back you will see the usual array of inputs and outputs.
Here is a picture of all the goods, which includes a USB 3.0, Composite cable, HDMI cable, remote control w/ batteries, wi fi antenna, MEDX2KEY USB wireless keyboard, and power brick. No network cable was included so make sure you have one available.
Pressing down the release latch on the front of the X3D opens up the top of the case (reminds me of the DeLorean!). This is where an internal hard drive can be placed. Also note there is no fan, so for those who are concerned about fan noise this shouldn’t be an issue.
Here is what the X3D looks like with a drive installed, takes about 10-15 seconds to install, all tool-less.
Here is a picture of the remote which had more of a rounded shape that fits in closer with the shape of the X3D. If you look closely, at the mid left and mid right of the remote are two black buttons. One button serves as a power button and the other button serves to turn the backlighting for the remote on (a nice feature)
Here is the MEDX2KEY USB wireless keyboard close up. It has a similar look and feel as other wireless mini keyboards out there, but branded specifically for the Mede8er. For anyone who is looking to use some of the online resources available, the keyboard is much more convenient then the remote.
One interesting item. Not only did the X3D come with an instruction manual, but it was actually a very detailed manual! Job well done!
I found the X3D as a whole to be very well thought out, from the packaging to the remote to the user manual. Of course the case itself folks will either love it or hate it. Maybe it is just the Trekkie in me, but I actually like the case. At a minimum when you hold in your hands you know you have a solid device and not a piece of plastic.
The stock UI on the X3D has had a minor overhaul from the 500X2, going with a Confluence type theme (menu items are vertical to the left of the screen). In my opinion this is a much better layout to go with as it is much clearer what each menu item is. As with the 500X2 you also have the option to download and install various user created themes.
Since the UI on the X3D shares many of the same traits as the 500X2 I won’t go into much detail over since it is covered more extensively in the 500X2 review.
When playing a folder rip you will be prompted to either play the disc or browse the disc.
Quick view of some of the video settings.
Since the X3D does not support full Blu ray menus you instead will have access to a basic bd lite menu.
The remote control is IR based which means direct line of sight is needed, and comes with the usual assortment of buttons. The design of the remote itself I found to be a bit more ergonomic as compared to the typical hard edged rectangular shaped remotes.
Similar to the 500X2, navigating around was relatively quick, with very little lag when scrolling through the file browser. At times though the pointer got a little too jumpy, and I found myself constantly having to scroll back because scrolling once would actually register as two clicks over.
The X3D has a gigE NIC, and when testing over the network was able to recognize both smb and nfs set up on my Windows Home Server. Using the infamous “bird scene” from Planet Earth I was able to play back without issue the 70 Mbps clip via smb and the 110 Mbps clip via nfs. This should allow for plenty of headroom when streaming high bitrate content. When transferring files over to network to an internal drive in the X3D I averaged approx. 15 MB/s.
However, currently there is one important caveat. Several 3D Blu rays currently push beyond the typical bitrate limits we are used to seeing with 2D Blu rays. You might have seen peaks up to approx. 50Mbps with a 2D Blu ray, but with 3D Blu rays there are peaks in excess of 90Mbps. As you can see based on the smb results above, this will cause issues with trying to play back 3D Blu rays over smb. I attempted to play back The Avengers 3D Blu ray via smb and had frequent stuttering/audio dropouts, to the point where it made it nearly unwatchable. I then switched over to nfs and the same Avengers 3D Blu ray played flawless. Of course though, there is another potential issue not related to the X3D. In order to use NFS and get the necessary performance, your media server which is streaming via nfs must support nfs @ 32k. It appears that Windows Home Server supports this (which is why I had no issues) but it looks like the current Synology media players only support nfs @ 8k, resulting in worse performance versus smb. For anyone who plans on streaming their 3D Blu rays this is important to note.
As far as smb performance, I guess only time will tell if smb can be optimized for higher bitrates. If not then nfs or attached storage may be the best solution for those wanting to play back their 3D Blu rays.
I tested playback using the latest X3D beta firmware at the time of this post (29-Sep-2012, V1.0.3), and below are the results:
- mkv w/ chapters – (PASS)
- mkv w/ 480p internal IDX/SUB subtitles (PASS)
- mkv w/ 1080p internal IDX/SUB subtitles (PASS)
- mkv w/multiple SSA subtitles – subtitles are not displayed properly (FAIL)
- mkv w/ internal PGS subtitles (PASS)
- HD Audio downmix to stereo – DTS(MA) (PASS) / TrueHD (PASS)
- HD Audio downmix to multi channel PCM (over HDMI) – DTS(MA) (FAIL) / TrueHD (FAIL)
- mkv w/ forced subtitles – (FAIL)
- mkv/(m2)ts with DTS(MA) – bitstreamed without issue - (PASS)
- mkv/(m2)ts with TrueHD Audio Track – bitstreamed without issue - (PASS)
- mkv/(m2)ts with Dolby Digital Plus – bitstreamed without issue - (PASS)
- mkv w/ VC-1 encoded video – played without issue (PASS)
- Forced Subtitles in a BluRay Structure – (FAIL)
- BluRay ISO (main movie only) – played without issue (PASS)
- BluRay Folder (entire disc) – played movie, only main movie with bd lite menu support (PASS). However, if the BluRay is a seamless branch (i.e. the main movie is broken up into multiple files) playback issues were encountered (FAIL)
- DVD ISO and/or Folder Structure – played with full menus (PASS)
- 1080p quicktime (.mov) trailer – played without issue (PASS)
- 1080p WMV w/ WMAPro Audio – (PASS)
- avi/mpeg/m4v clips – played without issue (PASS)
- mkv w/ FLAC – played w/ multi channel PCM (PASS)
- mkv w/ header compression – played without issue (PASS)
- 3D SBS mkv – played (PASS), however, signal was not sent through to TV to switch to 3D mode (need to do manually)
- 1080p60 mkvs- played without issue – played but jerky (PASS)
- L5.1 mkvs – played, however noticeable blocking in video (PASS)
- 16 Reference Frame mkvs – – played, however noticeable blocking in video (PASS)
Similar to the MED500X2 the X3D encountered issues revolving around subtitle support. Forced subtitles in both mkvs and folder structures do not work, and multiple SSA subtitles (such as those commonly used in Anime) did not display properly. I believe this is an issue with the Realtek SDK not supporting, but hopefully the Mede8er developers can come up with a work around.
One other item to note, if you are using the X3D to output HD Audio as multi channel PCM over HDMI, instead you will only get 2 channel stereo. However, a multi channel PCM track will be output as a multi channel PCM track (for those using FLAC for example).
I did notice very brief HD Audio dropouts (1 second or less) when playing back a few 3D Blu rays over nfs (example being Prometheus which had approx 4-5 1 second audio dropouts), but otherwise audio and video played back as expected (taking into account the smb issues as noted in the Network Performance section).
I had a chance to briefly test auto frame rate support with 2D and 3D Blu ray content, and from what I could see 23.976fps was being properly output.
On occasion when playing back a full disc rip (such as a 3D Blu ray), I would get this invalid navigation message. Clicking continue though would take me directly to the main movie.
As I expected, the X3D was able to play back nearly all files I threw at it. Subtitle support still appears to be a weak spot though, and hopefully one that gets addressed in upcoming firmware updates.
Third Party Jukebox:
I won’t spend any time addressing third party jukeboxes since I covered this fairly extensively in my MED500X2 review except to note that the same options exist for the X3D on both the Movie and Music jukebox.
It is worth mentioning though that there still exist several shortcomings with the current video jukebox that I hope gets addressed at some point in the future. The first would be being able to create one central jukebox for multiple folders/shares. The second would be full support for TV Shows. Getting these two items integrated would go a long way to bringing the Mede8er jukebox more in line with several of the other jukeboxes that are available on competing media players.
Similar to the 500X2, the X3D offers some basic online services (such as internet access, you tube, etc…). The commonly requested services (such as Netflix, Hulu, etc…) are not available, and this not something that you can access via the browser either. More and more Smart TVs are hitting the market these days which already have many of these services incorporated, so I don’t view it as a huge negative that such services aren’t available (especially since bringing on some of those services could severely restrict the player and development).
There is one important distinction between the X3D and most other Realtek 1186 players. The developers at Mede8er decided to not include Android support (which is common in many of the 1186 players). The developers rely on custom code for the Mede8er, and this combined with Android support would create too many instabilities. Android in my opinion is rather overblown at this point anyhow, and until it is properly optimized for media players I would not lose sleep over not having this.
As with the MED500X2 I found the X3D to be a very solid and capable player. As expected there are some bugs or performance enhancements to be made, most notably streaming performance for 3D Blu ray playback. Hopefully along with various playback enhancements attention can be placed on proper subtitle support and a more feature rich jukebox (either through internal development or from 3rd party developers). This would all go a long way towards making the Mede8er a must own player. Of course if you are in the market for a media player that can play back Blu ray 3D then your options are limited. There are several Realtek 1186 models, but I can tell you first hand that I would rather choose one that I knew I would get the full support of the developers, and this is an area where Mede8er excels.
Big thanks to Mede8er for providing me the X3D for review.