I was in the market for a media player and stumbled across the promotion from Bluetimes where I would receive the player for shipment costs only in return for a review and a YouTube review. So here is my review. I have included some pictures of the packaging and items in the box to begin with, pictures are clickable for a full sized version. I have given feedback to Bluetimes that when I received the item it looked pretty rough which is quite typical for DHL deliveries if you ask me. Luckily the packaging was sufficient to protect the unit.
Second I will give the specifications quoted from the manufacturers website.
Product Main Features
Model name - BT3584D
CPU - RTD1186
Frequency - 750MHZ
RAM - 512MB DDR3
Flash - 4G Byte NAND FLASH
OS - Linux & Android2.2
Type - Read - Write
NTFS - YES - YES
FAT32 - YES - YES
EXT3 - YES - YES
HFS - YES - YES
UDF 2.5 - YES - NO
ISO 9660 - YES - NO
USB host - 3 * USB HOST (1 USB 3.0; 2 USB 2.0)
SD Card - 1 * SD slot
RJ45 - 1 * Gigabit Lan
AV - 1 * AV out
Ypbpr - 1 * Ypbpr out
HDMI - 1 * HDMI 1.4 out
Optical - 1 * Optical (Digital 5.1)
Coaxial - 1 * Coaxial (Digital 5.1)
Voltage - Input: 100-240V Output: 5V/2A
Products Size - 14.9(L)x10.9(W)x 2.7(H) cm
UI - Stylish 3D-View UI design
Video Formats - MKV,TS,M2TS,TP,WMV,IFO, ISO, VOB, DAT, AVI, MPG,MP4,MOV, RM, RMVB, FLV etc
Video Formats (Codecs) - MPEG-1 / MPEG-2 / MPEG-4 SP /ASP /AVC (H.264) / XviD / DivX / WMV9 (VC-1) / RealVideo 8/9/10 (up to 720P)
Video Extensions (Containers) - AVI / BDMV Light / BD-ISO Light / MKV / TS / TP / TRP / M2TS / MPG / MP4 / MOV / M4V / VOB / ISO / IFO / DAT / WMV / ASF / RM / RMVB / FLV
Others - DVD ISO (original menus)
Similarly from the Realtek website keep in mind that not all options listed here are implemented in this player, it just shows what the chip supports.
HD MPEG1/2/4, H.264/H.264 MVC, AVC/VC1, RM/RMVB, AVS Decoder with 10/100/1000M Ethernet, PCIe, Card Reader, and HDMI
The RTD1186 is a highly integrated SoC for Consumer Electronics products requiring High Definition Media Playback, Wireless/Wired Networking, Mass Storage, and DTV capabilities
GPU: OpenGL ES2.0-compliant 3D GPU
HD MPEG1/2/4/H.264/H.264 MVC & HD JPEG Decoder
HD AVC/VC-1 Decoder
HD RM/RMVB Decoder
HD AVS Decoder
AV Streaming/Transmission via Ethernet & Wi-Fi
TV Encoder with CVBS/S-Video/YPbPr/SCART Out
HDMI v1.4 with CEC and support for 3D over HDMI
I2S, SPDIF Out
Dual USB 2.0 Host or one USB 2.0 Host/Device with dual port integrated PHY, USB 3.0 Host/Device
10/100 Ethernet MAC & PHY
Gigabit Ethernet MAC
Card Reader (SD/MMC/MS Pro)
DTV Recording & Time-Shifting
HDD Media Player
Digital Media Adaptor/Server
Networked Media Module for Embedded CE device
Networked STB with PVR
As you can see this is an impressive feature set.
The manual is quite basic but it does explain every feature that is available on the player and remote sufficiently, at least in my experience. To be honest, I have not used the manual very much. I guess I needed it to find out how to install android applications and to read about some features for which I couldn't guess straight away what they were.
Before powering on the unit, choose your preferred way of connecting. I recommend, if possible, to use the A/V output as well just in case you don't have an image straight away. You can use the TV-System button to cycle trough all the available display modes. A nice bonus I found out is that the player supports multiple outputs at the same time (E.g. HDMI + A/V or HDMI + Component, not tested 3 outputs simultaneously due to lack of 3rd cable)
If you are connecting with the component option you can use the same cable as for A/V but the following colours match the RGB input of your device: Yellow=Green; Red=Blue; White=Red.
When you power up the player for the first time you will get the following options:
Menu Language: Set your preferred language
Time: Set date and time.
Wired Lan Setup: Configure your network connection.
A minor remark is that since I am Dutch, I tested the Dutch language and it has a few small errors in translation where it looks like some Italian/Spanish has been mixed in some words.
Once you have set these you will be brought to the main menu. From now on booting the player is reasonably fast but can vary depending on what you have connected and if you have the boot Android on power up option enabled. Personally I recommend to only boot android if you actually need it just out of reasoning that it will use resources needlessly though I have not experienced any problems with Android enabled. I discovered the time option does not support summer/winter time. I circumvented this by changing the time zone. Setting the time manually is possible but will be reset after an off-on cycle.
I have tested the following devices with the player:
• Acer K330 Projector
• LG 32LH2000 TV
• Philips DFR9000 receiver
• Medion Akoya X55005 monitor MD20160
• Samsung S2 Portable 1TB Black
• Western Digital My Passport Essential SE 1TB
• Western Digital Caviar GP 1TB (internal HD)
• Samsung Galaxy S2
• SanDisk Ultra II SDHC 32 GB memory card & 1GB class 2 card
• Sitecom WL353 Wireless N 150mbps USB adapter (My internet is provided by O2 with a wireless box II)
• Logitech G7 Wireless mouse (USB)
• Logitech Internet Navigator Keyboard (USB)
The main purpose for my player is to use it in combination with my Acer K330. This is truly a great combo, the Acer projects an 80" screen and the media player is far superior to the onboard one. These two combined bring one of the most mobile home cinema experiences (in terms of image at least since the beamer only has a 1 watt speaker) you can think of. Of course, the audio in a movie is just as important for a good experience, which is why I also tested it with my LG TV (32LH2000) in combination with my Philips DFR9000 digital AV receiver. I can tell you now that I got every option that is supposed to work, working.
Next to this I have tested it on my Medion Akoya X5500 24" 1080P monitor just to see actual Full HD resolution.
Some interface shots:
As you can see there is a lot of settings and features. I think it goes beyond the scope of this review to discuss them all. A few highlights:
- One can change the background picture with preset images or your own image. There is a screensaver and you can choose your own pictures for it but only when media library is enabled.
- The main menu from left to right has the following options:
- File manager: Browse through any locations available to the player
- Movies: Browse through a list of all the movie files the player has scanned & access to
- Music: Same as movies but then for pictures. One can create playlists in this menu too
- Pictures: Same as music but then for pictures.
- Favourites: One can put their favourite locations/files in this menu.
- Premium Apps: This section will allow you to access premium apps such as YouTube(XL)
- Android: Enter the android OS
- Browser: Go directly to the Android Web browser.
- Setup: Access all the settings and features of the player.
- Sound will be passed through HDMI, Optical SPDIF/Toslink, Coaxial SPDIF, A/V (Left/Right)
- Network can be done with fixed IP or DHCP via gigabit Ethernet, or with a USB wireless N dongle (not included & compatibility list not available) You can also connect the player straight to your modem if it supports it and setup a PPPoE.
- Power consumption, noise & temperature: I actually can't say much about the power consumption. The power brick states Input 100-240VAC, 50-60Hz, 1.2A; Output 12.0V DC 3000mA. The player is completely silent. My internal/USB hard drive is the only thing you can hear. No hum/electric noise from the power brick or player. I do have to note that the player becomes quite hot, I put 2 clocks on it that can measure temperature, one indicated 31.8 and the other 29.4. I know they are far from accurate but since they are just standing on top of it I reckon the unit must be hotter than this. I definitely recommend for it to be placed somewhere where it can dissipate its heat.
MENUS AND NAVIGATION
I found the menus and navigation intuitive enough not to need the manual for the majority of the settings. The remote has a standard 4 arrow navigation section which allows you to navigate easily between options. The remote itself is nothing fancy but it does what it needs to do and well. The important buttons are placed logically and the rest you have to look up a few times before you remember them. Usually the coloured buttons will be mentioned on the screen if they have a function. There are 4 buttons I want to highlight on it:
1) Eject: This button is quite important and if you are like me you might overlook it and just decide to unplug connected media. As you might have guessed by now the eject button is to un-mount any connected media properly. If you don't use it the player will display e.g. unsafe removal of memory card and you might risk losing any editing you have done.
2) TV System: Use this button to cycle trough all the resolutions the player supports with your current display. As said at the initial setup, you might want to connect the AV connector as well just to get an image working if you don't succeed with the HDMI.
3) Setup: During playback of a movie you can press this button and access any options in the setup menu. After finishing just press the button again and you will go back to the movie.
4) Option: This button has many hidden functions. I recommend you try pressing it in every screen and see what happens. Personally I think the most important one is when you are playing a movie, it will reveal the option to change brightness, contrast, saturation and hue. It also gives some options in the file manager screen.
This player supports file copying moving & deletion among other operations. As always be careful with moving/deleting since you might lose the file if you do this wrong.
I can also state that the remote is powerful enough to operate the player pointing it at the wall on the other side of the room (3x3 meter room) which is ideal for use with a projector since you can place the player near the projector. You are also not forced to aim the remote directly at the player so I guess the angle of the LED is wide enough.
ACCESSING MEDIA CONTENT
As described earlier there are several ways to access your media. You can enable the media library option with scan on power up so all your local storage files are listed in the movies/music/photos section.
The player supports playlists for photos and music. There are 3 different views: List; Thumbnail & Preview.
Other ways to access media is via network, upnp(DLNA), NFS(network file storage/Linux share)
The other way around you can access anything connected to the player via the samba server.
The throughput speed I measured with my wireless N adapter trough my O2 Wireless box with a 3 meter distance was 1.3 MB/s (computer was connected via 100Mbit Ethernet).
I connected the player straight to 1 of my 2 Ethernet ports (Realtek PCI GBE Family controller) and achieved 8.5 MB/s. I used the HDD connected via SATA to copy files and fixed my computers onboard network on 1.0 Gbps throughput. I reckon the speed is limited by the cable I use (cat 5e UTP that came with the O2 Wireless box II) or perhaps something else I overlooked.
Once the movie has started you will have access to several buttons and options. First off it should be mentioned that there is no option to start a movie without subtitle by default. Subtitles can be disabled or adjusted by pressing the dedicated subtitle button. I have tested 1 Blu-ray iso and 1 DVD iso and in both situations I could only choose the subtitle language or turn it off. There is a way to enable the other functions, which is to download the subtitles separately and use these instead. Perhaps different ISO's might support more subtitle options. The normal options with e.g. MKV files are: Language, Size, Position, delay, encoding and colour. Perhaps a nice future feature would be to be able to choose a custom colour.
There is a lip-sync support. I have it on auto by default. I have not needed to adjust any settings here yet with any file I tried. I did discover however that the manual setting does not allow a negative value meaning that you can only adjust an audio/video de-sync one way. Perhaps the auto setting covers this.
The main weakness of a dedicated player like this compared to a PC is the compatibility with the most recent formats. I have tested a lot of avi & mkv files and they all worked without problems. It even played files that both my LG tv and Acer projector refused and supports DTS.
After reading another review about a media player like this I became aware of something that people called the 24P bug. The 24P bug according to what I found on the internet is a double frame every 41.7 seconds. Because most movies are not exactly 24fps but 23.976, they need to synchronize this difference in some way. I read that Realtek decided to do this to duplicate 1 frame every 41.7 seconds. I have looked for it, and think that I indeed have been able to notice it, but, if it indeed was this bug, it was such a small stutter that I don't really see what people are complaining about. Perhaps it manifests itself different on different displays but on my LG tv it was not an issue. I guess my answer here is that I would need to spent some proper time to prove it is definitely there and even then it will be more than acceptable in my experience. I could however state that it would be nice if Realtek decides to solve this problem in a different way.
To continue on the 24P mode, I was able to get it to work with my LG tv but not on my Acer K330 (it says 1080p 60Hz) while its specifications states it does support it. Now this can be a problem with the Acer K330 of course but I guess it would be nice to have a force 24P option although perhaps this is already the case and my Acer just doesn't detect it.
There is a section called premium apps. In this section are preinstalled premium apps to access online content. I will list all of them here:
• Yahoo Weather & Finance
I recommend you google them for find out what they might do if you do not know already. I tested them all and they all seem to work OK. Note that for some of them you might wish to connect a wireless mouse and a keyboard. The one I listed worked.
I have indicated that for UK customers it would be a great addition to have BBC iPlayer as well as TVcatchup and perhaps others (4OD, iTV player and more recently Netflix has gotten UK support etc.) that I am not yet aware of as a new resident of the UK. I don't know if they will comply to this request of course but it can't hurt to ask.
There are 2 bittorrent clients. I got both to work. The BT process one worked straight away. I had to do some Googling to get the PT Transmission to work. The interface of PT Transmission looks a lot better but the default download directory is not accessible from the default file manager and is on the internal memory I think. You can find the correct path to download in via the OI file manager. Choose the home button in the top left and navigate to the disk of your choice, then use this path in the web interface. In my case I used: /tmp/usbmounts/sdb1/BT. Be aware that this is case sensitive.
The web browser can be accessed from the main menu or via the android interface. They are the same browser. The resolution is 996x465. I strongly recommend you have at least a mouse connected but a keyboard will speed up the browsing process a lot as well. Note that you will be able to do everything with the remote (with the mini keyboard) but the process is slow because you have to navigate with the arrow keys to the correct letters etc.
One interesting discovery was that you cannot close the browser with one button. On my galaxy S2 I can press the home button to go back to the main interface but I have pressed every button on the remote and was not able to close it. I was unable to do it with the mouse either. The keyboard does not allow for a normal close either but I was able to force close it pressing alt F4. If you are stuck with the remote you are forced to press back as many times as necessary to end up back in the interface or just go to a website you know will not work and force closes the browser.
The browser cannot handle https connection I suspect so you cannot log in to any website. Going to a website like face book will instantly force close it. In short, this feature needs some work. I have been told this is being worked on and would be improved with the next firmware.
A last remark is that If you are connected via wireless but chose not to boot android during power up, starting the browser will generate a message that there is no wireless connected. It will still work after clicking OK. This message is avoided if you boot android with power up or using a wired connection. Also be aware that the WPA-PSK key is case sensitive.
I have tested the preinstalled apps which are calculator, fruit slice, gallery, music and the 5 options in the bottom row: Browser, OI File manager, search, RT Media centre, Settings.
A long story short, they all work. You will need a mouse for fruit slice. The OI file manager can be used to install new apps, the search function brings you to Google. The RT Media centre has 3 sections, Video, pictures, audio, where you will be presented with a complete list of all local files and perhaps network files, I did not test this very much because of the following reason:
The main interface & player is a lot better than this one. I have been informed that the main reason for this feature is that the android interface supports a lot of popular file types. I guess it will be a nice safeguard for when you have a file the main player doesn't support but the controls in the android player are very limited. Maybe there is an app that will work that can improve the features.
Which brings me to another important point. This player does not have an ARM processor which means that any android app that specifically needs this processor will not work. Perhaps there will be emulations in the future but currently the choice is rather limited. I have been able to install a few apps as can be seen on my screenshot (Wordfeud is on the next page). The website Apktops was very helpful here. Flash,BBC iPlayer,Skype & many more do not work.
I have had very pleasant communication with Allen who was my contact for this promotion. He told me exactly what I needed to know when I had questions. I would see no reason at all to be distrusting and feel confident to recommend contacting them if you have any specific questions or concerns. They take customer service seriously. I expect you will be buying their product trough a local retailer in the future which will be the first line of support but if that fails it is always nice to know there is a backup.
The most important functionality of a media player like this is to play a broad selection of movie formats to your display of choice without any problems. I would say that this player succeeds in this with ease. It exceeds in connectivity if you ask me and the interface is clean and intuitive. The remote serves its purpose well and its LED is powerful enough. The design is definitely worth mentioning as well. The android interface is a nice bonus but I wouldn't buy the player for this feature on its own, it needs to mature more. 3D support is also a nice feature but I was unable to test it because I do not have a 3D capable display. I wonder if it works with 3D YouTube content. If any of the shortcomings I mentioned in this review is not a deal breaker for you, then this player is definitely a worth considering.
Disadvantages and advantages
- Most android apps don't work
- Player gets hot
- One of the bittorrent clients is wrongly configured
- Plays a lot of formats
- Extensive connectivity
- Compact design
- Intuitive interface