Original URL: http://www.theregister.co.uk/2012/05/07/review_philips_hmp2000_hd_networked_media_player/

Philips HMP2000 HD Media Player

Jumping on the Netflix bandwagon

By Cliff Joseph

Posted in Hardware, 7th May 2012 11:00 GMT

Review Philips describes its new HMP2000 as a ‘smart media box’, along the lines of rivals such as the AppleTV and Western Digital’s WDTV Live. However, it would probably be more accurate to describe it as a Netflix box, since Netflix is clearly its primary raison d’être.

Philips HMP2000 HD networked media player

Media smartie: Philips HMP2000

The wedge-shaped design of the HMP2000 makes it look like a fatter version of the AppleTV, but it turns out to be rather thinner in terms of features. Look around the back of the HMP2000 and you’ll see just the mains power socket and an HDMI interface for connecting it to your HD TV. There’s no dedicated digital audio output – you'll have to resort to the HDMI audio channels – and no Ethernet either, so you have to rely on the built-in Wi-Fi for connecting to your home network. The spec sheet makes no mention of the wifi, but I'm told it’s 802.11g.

Philips HMP2000 HD networked media player

Wireless networking and just HDMI and USB connectivity

There’s no internal storage, but the HMP2000 does have a single USB port on the left-hand side that allows you to play music, photos or video files off an external USB Flash drive or hard drive. That’s the only way to play your own files, though, as there’s no support for DLNA or any other networking options that would allow you to stream files from a networked Mac, PC or mobile device.

Philips HMP2000 HD networked media player

The credit card remote's action takes some getting used to

The initial set-up process is very straightforward, as the HMP2000 automatically guides you through the process of selecting a language and connecting to a wireless network. However, the cheap and nasty remote control immediately becomes an annoyance – it’s flimsily constructed, and the buttons aren’t very responsive, forcing you to press down slowly and firmly when selecting options from the on-screen menu.

Philips HMP2000 HD networked media player

Moreover, that menu turns out to be rather underwhelming too, consisting of just a handful of small icons floating in acres of empty screen space. The first icon provides access to Netflix, and there’s also a dedicated Netflix button on the remote control that confirms Netflix’s status as the virtual be-all and end-all of the HMP2000.

Philips HMP2000 HD networked media player

Minimal main menu

There are no other commercial video services available – no BBC iPlayer, Lovefilm, PictureBox or any other UK-based video services. The only other on-line options are a small selection of social networking sites. YouTube is there of course, and there’s an icon labeled ‘Internet Services’ that had me hoping for something a bit more interesting, but revealed a measly selection consisting of just Facebook, Picasa and the weather.

Philips HMP2000 HD networked media player

Slim pickings for other services

And that, alas, is the entirety of the HMP2000’s on-line offerings, so if you haven’t got a Netflix account then the HMP2000 doesn’t have an awful lot to offer. And yet, within those limits the HMP2000 does actually work quite well. Its 1080p output is crisp and colourful, and the HMP2000 also works well as a general-purpose media player for files stored on external USB devices. Its interface isn’t particularly elegant, but it’s functional enough and the one saving grace of the remote control is the Browse button that allows you to browse through individual folders or to sort music, photos and videos separately.

Philips HMP2000 HD networked media player

Music playback

The HMP2000 also supports a good selection of file formats. The spec sheet lists only MP4, H.264, MKV and WMV video formats, and MP3 and WMA for audio, but I was also able to play some Video_TS files ripped off DVD, as well as my collection of AAC music copied from iTunes. There’s no support for DiVX or XVid, although there is a more expensive model called the HMP7000 that supports those formats and is available for about £100.

Philips HMP2000 HD networked media player

Affordable IPTV access

Verdict

If your existing HD TV doesn’t have Internet connectivity already built in then, if you shop around, for a mere £45 the HMP2000 does provide a quick and affordable way of using your TV with your new Netflix account. However, the lack of additional VOD services means that the Philips HMP2000 is very much a one-trick pony, and many people will probably prefer to pay another £40 for the more versatile WD TV Live. ®

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