Freecom MediaPlayer II 500GB
Media streamer, meet Nas box
Review Despite its name, the Freecom MediaPlayer II is more than just media streamer - it's a Nas box too. So, not only can you use it to play video files in your lounge, but it's easy to get content on to it as well. Just hook it up to your network, and drag and drop what you want to watch.
Freecom's MediaPlayer II: Nas and media playback box combined
As a device that will no doubt make its way into the living room, it's not offensive to look at but it's not the most stylish consumer electronics device ever made. The silver case and black front look decent, but it's not going to win any design awards. On the plus side, the constant blue light that's illuminated when it's on isn't so bright that it's distracting if you're trying to watch a video with the lights turned down.
Given its size, the MedialPlayer II is more likely to sit on top of existing AV kit, rather than in amongst it, as it doesn't fit the standard wide, short form. It measures 203 x 160 x 50mm, although you'll need to allow extra space around the back for cable clearance.
On the front, you'll find just a single power switch and a status LED, and the sides are clear apart from air vents. Round the back, you'll find an array of connectors to hook it up to a TV, plus ports that allows it to function as an external hard drive.
On the TV side of things, there's HDMI, component- and composite-video, and both analogue and digital audio. The device will pump out video at up to 1080i resolution. For storage connectivity, there's a 10/100Mbps Ethernet socket and two USB ports - a square type B connector to hook it up to a PC and a flat type A socket to connect addition storage or for use with the optional wireless dongle.
A decent array of connectivity options, HDMI included
Freecom sells the MediaPlayer II in a number of configurations. You can buy it as a drive-less kit to add your own disk to for £115, or you can choose a pre-prepared model with either 500GB, 1TB or 1.5TB inside for £175, £220 and £280, respectively. If you want to be able to connect to it wirelessly, then you'll also need the USB WLAN Adaptor, which will set you back a further £45.
I have a Freecom Mediaplayer 450 (I guess the same thing as what Gordon861 is talking about) sitting abandoned on the shelf, and this seems to be basically a repackaged version of that - same pathetic network performance, and same pathetic codec support. I bought the 450 because I wanted a way to output 1080p content on my full HD telly, but I did not realize that it can't actually play the formats that the vast majority of HD content is distributed in. So you have to convert to DivX on a PC, then transfer it over the painfully slow network interface, or physically carry it around to use USB. So much for casually viewing anything. I'm actually kind of shocked that Freecom are trying to flog this without having improved the technology at all from where it was when I bought my 450, it's junk.
"You can't network stream or be a NAS without GBit"
Oh no!! I better tell my media player attached to my TV via HDMI that regularly streams 1080p content from my PC over 10/100, I'm sure it will stop doing it as soon as it finds out you say it can't!!! Oh and it will stop downloading via bittorrent at the same time as streaming too I'd guess!
I'll be sticking with
my WD-TV for now. Best piece of kit you'll buy for £75 this year.