Noontec's HD media player a solid offering

Noontec's HD media player a solid offering

Now that high definition televisions are more ubiquitous, home entertainment systems are more sophisticated and Windows 7 has encouraged greater use of home networking, media players have had to keep pace.

The Noontec MovieHome V8 pro media player caters for these trends. It does not have a flashy appearance when compared with some competitors in the category, but its performance is solid and there are no major disappointments.

There is a wide array of output choices and the device covers the bases in terms of media sources – including content shared over Ethernet on a home network, content stored on USB or universal plug and play-connected devices on an installed hard drive, or from the internet. There are two high-speed USB ports, along with a host port to connect to your PC.

The MovieHome V8 player outputs files at full 1080p resolution over HDMI. Also, if your television is lacking in top quality sound, there are optical audio ports to connect to your hi-fi stereo system.

Once connected to power, choose from composite, component or HDMI output (an AV cable is supplied) for connection to your television.

To store your media collection using the V8 pro a standard SATA drive of up to 1.5TB can be installed, but it can also be used solely as a streaming device.

The interface is clean and simple – all sources of media content are displayed regardless of whether they are installed or have media available.

Once a content source is selected, all files contained within it are displayed and movie files will begin playing in preview mode on the right of the screen to ensure you have got the right one and the correct bandwidth.

Video and audio quality were fine and files played quickly and smoothly – this was tested using AVI files and a VOB file stored on a flash drive, and a network-shared file using the supplied Ethernet cable.

For internet content, Noontec has provided YouTube, four news services and two photo services (Flickr and Picasa).

In the set-up mode, users can alter the menu language, the screen saver, set DVDs to autoplay and format installed drives. Network set-up works either by automatic detection or manual input of the IP address. Input is done using an onscreen keyboard and using the remote’s number keys.

For those not using Windows, this unit also supports the Samba client.

To control the player, there are menu and set-up buttons, along with media controls, along the front of the unit. The remote also has useful buttons to choose between music, photos and movies.

The player will decode most video formats – including MPEG1, 2 and 4, Divx and H.264 and supports standard AVIs, MP4 files, WMV, MOV, VOB and many more. There is also support for Real Media files.

Of course the V8 pro is not just about movies – it supports JPG, BMP, PNG and GIF still image formats and will play slideshows complete with any added background music. For audio, it supports MP3 files, WMAs, WAV, AAC, OCG, FLAC and Dolby and DTS Digital.

At 215 x 165 x 57 mm, the unit weighs only about 750 grams without a hard drive installed. It has a plain, black metal chassis with silver buttons and trim, blue LED backlighting and a perspex layer over the front.

One minor point of note is users may wish to change the default screensaver – which is a dated looking cartoon of the man in the moon. Noontec’s offering is reasonably priced at $249.

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