Media player with PVR pretensions
Review Wyplay is a French company that’s aimed its Wyplayer directly at users of the Gallic equivalent of Freeview – TNT HD – but who also require media player functionality. It is, in essence, a high definition Personal Video Recorder combined with a media streamer, in a single box. It may offer everything the average Frenchman needs, but how well will it fare in Blighty?
Wyplay's Wyplayer media player
The Wyplayer is a slim unit, almost square, measuring 275 x 240 x 45mm. The front panel has three LEDs that show status information, an IR receiver, and a USB port for plugging in mass storage devices. A tiny hole allows a paperclip to access the reset button. On the rear you’ll find Ethernet, HDMI, composite video, S/PDIF digital audio output, left and right phono audio outputs, two more USB A connectors, a USB B and an input for the external power adaptor. There’s a single UHF aerial connector, which feeds both tuners internally, and a pass-through output for the TV.
With no SCART connectors, there’s no RGB output, and no component connectors; video output options of composite and HDMI are essentially at one extreme (composite) or the other (HDMI) The remote is very slender, just a little longer than a Mars bar, with just eleven buttons and a navigation wheel, but no channel numbers, coloured keys or any of the things we take for granted on a remote.
Installation is fairly straightforward, with an automatic wizard helping you through the setup; if you’ve plugged into Ethernet, it should automatically set up the connection and detect media servers on your network, using UPnP. There’s also Wireless-N built in, which can be configured via the remote control.
The Wyplayer’s interface is pretty easy to use, but you’ll find yourself doing a lot of scrolling and clicking. Typically, when you enter a menu, you move up and down by pressing on the wheel to reach and item, then press right to actually reach the area where you make a choice, then use up and down again to set the value, and then press left.
French connection: Wot, no SCART?
When it comes to entering alphanumerics, there’s an on-screen keyboard. To navigate, press the edges of the wheel, move the cursor by rotating it and select letters by pressing the centre. It’s not quite as complicated as it sounds, but it’s slower than having letters on a traditional keypad – mobile phone style.
For the same money I got a PS3 with PlayTV (dual tuner) and swapped the HDD for a 320GB one. It does all of the above, plus blu-ray and gaming. Think carefully about this one, people!
As a dual tuner PVR with DVB-T, its definitely of interest. The remote is actually attractive- I nearly got tossed out of a Sony shop at the weekend when I went around counting the number of buttons on their latest remote (46)....... Why companies imagine their remote controls have to resemble a prop from the original 60s series of Star trek is beyond me!!!
Its a bit rough and ready- a little bit of software tweaking would go a long way.
If I didn't already have the Western Digital Media Player- I'd be saving my hard earned cash for one of these- unfortunately the price tag is a bit too rich for my blood as is.......
It's a shame it's not really suitable for the UK market and that there are problems with the GUI, because the box looks nice, the GUI looks nice, and would provide the exact functionality I want - dual TV recorder unit with media playback (mostly MP3s and DivX) functionality.
£350 is quite steep
For less than that I built a HTPC - it's a dvd player, twin tuner pvr (with the lovely windows media center or any interface of your choice), full internet access (not just youtube), will play absolutely everything thanks to VLC.
For little over £200 more I added a top of the range gfx card (ATi3870 at the time) and blu-ray/hd-dvd combi drive and now have a full HD entertainment centre capable of running high-demanding games.
It's so simple to use the girlfriend can manage it and thanks to S3 sleep support switches on in a matter of seconds.
Remote control isn't an issue either, if the windows media center remote isn't up to the task than the wireless keyboard covers the base.
Noise from the box is non-existent either due to cpu cooling using a 16dB rated fan and two 120mm case fans on the lowest of three rpm settings.
Of course if you want less functionality and zero upgradeability you could always buy one of these dumb boxes.