The casing hasn't changedThe first thing to note is that the first and second revisions of the MED500X are very hard to tell apart. The casing on both models is identical, with the exception of the SDHC card reader that has been introduced on the right hand side.
The remote hasn't changed one iota either, which is a shame. It's still just as big and there's still no backlighting. The quality is okay however and the buttons well positioned and in sufficient number.
The interface has changed a bit
Photos can be viewed in miniature format and you get a wall of album covers for music, or posters for films. Standard viewing in list form is still available.
Mede8er has come up with some decent ideas, such as management of favourites. You can define your favourite folders and display them all in the same place. For example, although your films may be stored both on the media centre's hard drive and on an NAS, you can view them all together virtually speaking. All you have to do is put the folders in question in your favourites and then go to the favourites menu to view all these files. Very practical.
Excellent multimedia compatibilityNow to multimedia compatibility! No particular problems to report here, except for the hasardous management of external subtitles. Playback of even the heaviest videos passes without a hitch and all current formats (3D excepted) are supported. DTS and Dolby can be decoded (PCM multichannel or stereo downmix) or sent straight to an external audio amp (bitstream). The HD MA/HR and TrueHD versions of these formats can also be decoded.
What is slightly disappointing with respect to the audio support isn't that it's bad, but that only mp3 tags are supported. The same goes for the music covers that are part of music files - when it isn't mp3, you have to use an external image file for it to be viewed.
Real USB 3.0, pseudo Gigabit supportThe device has full connectivity. HDMI, component and composite can be used for video. The audio will transit via the HDMI, optical, coaxial ports or the analogue stereo files.
There are two USB 2.0 sockets, one of which is on the right hand side of the machine, allowing you to link it up to external peripherals. Playback (up to 90 Mbps) and copying (14.7 MB/s) using this connection is rapid and doesn't pose any problems.
Both titles and album covers are displayed
Networking is via an Ethernet Gigabit connector. While in theory, this port allows you to triple transfer speed in comparison to the old generation of Mede8er media centres, you actually only get a speed of 11.9 MB/s, which is equivalent to a standard 100 Mbps connection.
If you're planning to fill up the hard drive with several hundred gigabytes of data, it's best to use the USB 3.0 port. This isn't very practical as you have to link the media centre up to your computer but you then get speeds of 77 MB/s.
With Yadis, the jukebox looks nice but is limited to films
Internet services still no more than a gadgetLastly, Mede8er is also highlighting the Internet services on this centre. While they're a little better than on the previous generation, they still don't impress. At a time when we're all getting more and more used to high quality smartphone or tablet applications, it would perhaps be a good idea to make more of an effort with media centres. For now, only Popcorn Hour is offering a truly high quality service via its applications store.
Internet applications web, including a browser
There's also an Internet browser now, but it's slow to use and incompatible with Flash. Most users will try it once and then forget it, even though you can use it with a keyboard and mouse (wired or wireless). A mini-keyboard with a touchpad will moreover also be marketed soon by Mede8er as a paid extra.
- Multimedia compatibility / Audio HD Bitsream
- Rapid networking speeds (though this is relative for the Gigabit)
- Practical USB 3.0 port for copying large volumes of files
- Display in the form of miniatures for all types of files
- Video jukebox using Yadis for films
- No in-built video jukebox: you have to use third party software
- Video jukebox: poor support for series
- Mediocre support for external subtitles
- Menus lack style
- Web services still something of a gadget
This is an undeniably good media centre, which does what you ask of it. If you're already equipped with its predecessor however, it doesn't represent enough of a leap forward to justify the asking price. It's also time that Mede8er gave its interface a serious makeover. Plus, the internet services need modernising and there should really be a built-in video jukebox by now.