Reviews: Media Centres

REVIEW / ICY BOX IB-MP304S-B

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Last updated: November 9, 2009  
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Régis Jehl Published on November 9, 2009
Updated on November 9, 2009
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SPECIFICATIONS

  • Connections (HDMI/composite/optical/coaxial) 1 / 1 / 1 / 1
  • Hard drive bay (2.5''/3.5'') no / yes
  • WiFi no
  • Ethernet NA }
  • DVB-T tuner no
  • Chip ESS ES6461
The Icy Box IB-MP304S-B is an entry-level model with a modest spec. Is low pricing, an HDMI out and a single USB port enough to justify its existence?

This one's a real black box with a glossy front! There's no control screen, making use without the TV impossible, a shame if all you want to do is use the box to listen to music. It comes with an average sized remote that sits nicely in the hand. The buttons are nice to the touch and navigation simple.

The menus however look quite out of date and haven't been properly designed for the space on an HD screen. You can't display the images in a folder in the form of thumbnails. Energy consumption is good when in use, swinging between 15 and 20 watts. Standby consumption is 2.3 watts, which is average for this type of device.


Decoding: SD video only


Multimedia decoding is handled by an ESS ES6461SSA chip, the same as used on the Storex StoryDisk. You get similarly poor video decoding. It only plays MPEG-1, MPEG-2 and MPEG-4 ASP (DivX, XviD) codecs and only in SD format. Unfortunately, these formats are less and less used. It recognises AVI, DVVIX and MP4 containers.

The player does make up some ground on the audio side. MP3, AAC, WMA and OGG files are all supported. It doesn't however use ID3 tags so you need to name your audio files if you want to be able to find them again. Moving on to photos, JPEG and BMP formats are recognised. Transition time between photos is from 3 to 4 seconds, which is pretty average. All our test photos were displayed however, including those taken with a 21 Mpixel camera. Subtitling support is also good with SRT, SUB, SSA and SMI. It can't handle multi-audio video tracks however. Only the first audio track can be listened to.

Connectivity: HDMI and USB

The connectivity at the back is fairly standard with HDMI, RCA, YUV, coaxial and optical sockets. The only extra is a USB host on the right side of the device for connection of a USB key or other external hard drive. HDMI, RCA and USB cables are supplied to link the device to a computer.
Watch your formats
Whether with the internal hard drive, a USB key or external hard drive, you need to make sure that the file format is either FAT or FAT32. NTFS format, currently the most widespread, is not recognised by the device.

In 2009, this is an aberration, especially as not everyone is equipped to check the format and convert (from NTFS to FAT32). Red card from us!

PROS

  • None

CONS

  • Poor multimedia support
  • No SDHC card reader
  • No HD support
  • No NTFS support
  • No sceen

CONCLUSION 1/5

Apart from viewing photos, this media box isn't good for much. And even there it doesn't excel: no card reader no thumbnails, it's far behind other models that aren't necessarily much more expensive.
1 ICY BOX IB-MP304S-B Digitalversus 2009-11-09 00:00:00

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