Crystal Acoustics PicoHD5.1
Compact, media savvy player for under-equipped tellies
Review Most TVs now have memory card slots and USB ports for showing digital photos or playing music and video from your own collection. The Crystal Acoustics PicoHD5.1 media player provides the same features for just about any TV, especially HD-ready ones. If your set lacks the sockets, or doesn’t play the formats you want, you can just add one of these £40 gizmos.
"Crystal Acoustics' PicoHD5.1 is certainly a handy piece of kit
Housed in aluminium and barely larger than a typical card reader, it sports a full sized HDMI socket. It also outputs basic composite video, analogue stereo and, unusually, coaxial digital audio through one shared 3.5mm mini-jack, accessed with a supplied adapter.
Its smallness makes it easy to place around the TV and convenient to take on trips. If there’s a TV where you are staying, you can watch your media on something larger than a laptop.
The USB port accepts hard disk drives and flash memory formatted in FAT or NTFS (helpful for larger high-def video files). It’s also used to instal firmware updates. You can keep a USB drive and memory card connected and switch between them. Bear in mind it’s not a networkable device, so there’s no internet or LAN connection.
A full sized HDMI output and an AV jack that also carries digital 5.1 surround sound
The player outputs video over HDMI at up to 1080p resolution. The list of video formats supported is exhaustive – except ISO disk images, which would need to be extracted into their constituent parts – and it doesn’t deal with copy protected content you may have bought.
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Isn't this just an overpriced rebranded Sumvision Cyclone Micro 2? (£10 cheaper than the Pico)
Have been coming out of China by the bucketload for the last 3 years or so, I bought a similar device about 18 months ago, could take USB drives, a 2.5" internal HD and an SD card and play just about any format you chucked at it including RMVBs. $35 including shipping. Lifetime and reliability may be an issue but mine is still running 18 months later.
Paris, well you have to play something on these devices.
I'm struggling to see the point of this device...
Or more specifically: I'm struggling to see a reason why it was reviewed: there's dozens of these devices floating around, the majority of which all use the same chipset (and often, the same casing). And without a network connection, it's pretty much useless unless you want to keep plugging and unplugging stuff every time you want to put something new onto your USB stick/external HDD.
I'm still fond of my WD TV Live - it doesn't have the SD card slot (though SDHC readers are available from poundland... for a pound. And I've managed to read data off an SDHC card with one of these readers at 15mb/s!), but it does have an ethernet port (and/or wifi via a USB stick), happily reads stuff from Samba/NFS shares and - surprisingly - is still actively supported by WD; there's been several firmware upgrades over the last few months which both fix problems and add new features (e.g. access to Facebook and various online media-streaming services).
Better yet, since it's based on Linux and WD have released the source, some nice people have been tinkering with it, adding things like the ability to plug in a USB DVD drive or turn it into a full-blown mini-server. A friend of mine bought one and set it up as an SSH server, to give him a way of tunnelling past the Great Firewall of China while he's working over there.
Admittedly, the WD TV Live is nearly triple the price of this little device, but Maplins is currently selling a Viewsonic networkable media-player for £50, which is only a tenner more and pretty much has feature-parity with the stock WD TV Live setup...
Interesting and cheap. Shame it doesn't have a network interface.
One notable omission
they haven't quite managed to fill every available surface with huge ugly text.