We're still patiently waiting for a media streamer that offers decent access to the wide range of content stored on a typical PC and the wealth of services available online, and while there have been some worthy contenders to date, the "definitive solution" is yet to arrive. The HDX 1000 is the latest to offer what appears to be an excellent range of features with a particular twist towards online access, thanks to the built-in media server portal.
This offers direct access to sites such as YouTube, Google Video, MetaCafe and Flickr as well as podcasts, news, weather, internet radio and more. All of this is of course in addition to its capabilities as a media streamer and jukebox, with locally stored files accessible either from optional internal storage in the form of an SATA hard drive or connected USB devices. Files can be streamed across a wired or wireless network and though the latter requires a separate wireless dongle, we're pleased to report that performance here is fairly good.
While you'll sometimes see a few second delay when pausing and restarting and can forget about anything more detailed than 720p, we were generally quite impressed. Wired operation obviously works better offering access to streamed 1080p content despite the occasionally lengthy buffer time and odd pause on file browsing and resume.
In terms of accessing the wealth of online content in this way, it's fair to say that performance is “good enough”. We're hesitant to dock too many marks from the HDX based on this rather bland assessment because nobody to date has got it spot on in terms of access via a set top box and so despite the fact that there are still lags and buffer times to wait for, it's about as good as you're going to get in today's climate.
Video control in these areas is generally very good though, and we were particularly impressed by the massive range of file support on offer which should appeal to those with rather mixed media libraries. You can view the full list of files the HDX can handle from the official site (below) but suffice to say that it's up there with the best the industry has to offer at current. Playback control in terms of video is excellent as well, with subtitle support, audio track control, aspect ratio adjustment and quick-search available via the supplied remote.
The same cannot be said for photo and music playback however, and though the device does support this, it's so much of a token effort that those prioritising these sorts of features over video would be instantly advised to look elsewhere.
The HDX 1000 isn't perfect in terms of usability and stability but this almost seems to be a prerequisite of open-source supported devices of this nature. What you do get for your time and patience is what is possibly the most versatile and adaptable media streamer on the market, thanks in large due to its excellent support for a range of online content.
While it's a media streamer at heart, there's so much more to the HDX and music and photo viewing aside, it offers excellent control and access to a burgeoning media library that's just waiting to be streamed around the home.
Thanks to Ripcaster for the loan of this unit.