Acme MP-01 Media Player delivers Oscar-winning performance

Multimedia Players are the next evolutionary step in the home entertainment arena that started decades ago with the humble video player. The Acme MP-01 Portable Media Player is by all accounts an external hard drive that boosts 1TB capacity. By plugging the MP-01 into any compatible TV, you can play both films, programmes and video clips. Not only that, but it lives up to its multimedia billing allowing you to store photographs and songs as well, eliminating the need for a whole host of different devices for each.

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Coming wrapped inside a smart-looking metallic silver box, the MP-01 is fully 1080p HD compliant, and boosts Dolby Surround sound for home cinema set ups. Small and slim-line in size, it measures 142.5(L) x 85(W) x 23(H) mm, and is light enough to carry around with you, which allows you to easily transfer it between your PC and TV.

No matter what format your movie comes in, you can be pretty safe in the knowledge the MO-001 will play it with every popular format supported. It couldn’t be easier to use – you simply plug it into your TV and scroll through the menu using the remote control, select the video or song that you wish to access, and away you go.

If you are looking for an all-in-one multimedia solution, then the £99 MP-01 makes for fantastic value for money. Sure, compared to some of its (far more expensive) competitors, it doesn’t come with Wi-Fi support or internet capability, but then for this price you cannot complain. It does exactly what it says on the tin, and if you are looking for an all-in-one device that will save you space and is convenient to use, then the MP-01 deserves to be high on your shopping list.

For more information visit: www.interactiveideas.com

Sony N100: Another heavyweight enters networked media player ring

Sony have become the latest tech giants to jump into the burgeoning market of internet media players. Their new N100 Network Media box combines streaming client, Wi-Fi and BRAVIA Internet Video in one sleek little package.

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The player looks lovely enough, with a cool monolithic design that matches Sony’s state-of-the-art Bravia TVs. Its ultra-compact size is also a boon for minimalist fans, not least because the awkward, sticky-out bits usually featured on such players are built into the design or tucked away inside, to keep things as neat as possible.

So, all things considered, the device is definitely a winner in the style stakes, but what exactly can you do with it? Well, it’s more a case of what can’t you do?

The basis of the Network Media Player is the Bravia internet function that Sony uses on its top-edge digital TVs and has now adapted it into this standalone unit. The player makes big use of catch-up TV services, allowing easy access to BBC iPlayer and Demand Five. It also puts Hollywood blockbusters (or arty offerings, if that’s more your thing) at users’ fingertips by allowing them to order films from Lovefilm or the Qriocity-powered on-demand film service, giving instant access to an array of titles in HD or standard definition.

As for the technical stuff, the unit has 080P video output on HDMI and compatibility with the latest HD audio codecs, including dts 2.0+Digital Out and Dolby Digital Plus. It can play almost all film formats and audio tracks as well as content including DivXHD, MKV and AVCHD files locally via a front-panel USB socket. And there’s also functions allowing content to be streamed from network storage, in addition to IP Content Noise Reduction to clean up streamed video and free iPhone/iPod Touch/Android control apps.

In short, it sounds like a media-lover’s dream (and a Luddite’s worst nightmare). The unit is being touted by Sony as a simple, one-stop entertainment station that provides consumers with a full home cinema experience. With a huge array of functions and such an enticing design, it’s difficult to spot any obvious flaws with the product. The big test will be how it squares up against its rivals in such a highly competitive marketplace.

There’s no word on price yet, but the Sony N100 Network Media Player will be available to buy from October.

Loewe’s beautiful new high-end Mediacenter

The new Mediacenter from Loewe is a monster. It sets the benchmark for any cross-media platform. It’ll play your CDs and DVDs and can receive any radio via antenna, cable, satellite or the web…are you excited already? You should be.

With this beast any precious digital files that you’ve got stored on hard drives or within your own network can be accessed, as can those from your tech soulmates the iPod or iPhone. Rather conveniently it’s also possible to control the external Blu-Ray Player via this nifty gadget – all you have to do to get the most out of your Blu is push a button on the Assist Media remote control which will also help you browse through your collection with ease. Sweet, eh?

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The Mediacenter is built to connect directly to the TV set and it’ll use the screen to display all music sources (and CD / DVD artwork) on a clear interface. The center can be used with any TV supporting an HDMI connection, and so it’s not only restricted to the Loewe range. Because of this, we’ve found that the Mediacenter is simply one of the more accessible multi-room platforms about.

Indeed, one of the highlights of this beauty (apart from the high-class shiny, sexy exterior) is that all audio sources can be streamed to secondary rooms, where the Mediacenter can be operated by means of the aforementioned remote control.

We’re not done yet – the Mediacenter has three versions – the Loewe Reference Mediacenter, the Individual Mediacenter DR+ and the integrated hard drive-less Individual Mediacenter. On the first two, all of your songs can be saved centrally on two integrated hard drives totalling 320 GB while the latter model comes without that luxury. The Reference one takes around seven minutes to “rip” each CD and the name of the artist along with track information that can be altered at any time. As an additional option, music files can be copied from a PC onto the Mediacenter hard drive via the network and, as an added bonus all data is backed up on the second integrated drive (160 GB) – so the loss of special music files is near impossible.

The device is made to be hung on a wall with a slick profile of just 74 mm, including the wall mount which is supplied – a table and floor stand are also available on request. For more information visit the official Loewe website.

ViewSonic’s all-in-one MovieBook VPD400 media player

An entertainment gadget that does everything. Who wouldn’t want that? With music, films, books and even HD to its name, the ViewSonic MovieBook VPD400 is an all-in-one standalone portable media player (PMP) that launched last month, promising to encase every entertainment possibility in a pocket-sized device.

To start with, the VPD400 is less expensive than its contemporaries, currently retailing at £105. For that you get a slick, light, compact, easy to use gadget that allows you to watch films, listen to music, view photo albums, read e-books or even record a voice memo – should you so wish.

viewsonic-moviebook-vpd400The 4.3” LCD display with 800 x 480 pixel resolution is the main feature of this 4.4” x 3” x 0.5” device. With its 8GB built-in flash memory plus microSD card slot, which expands storage space to 16GB, it’s sort of like a big memory stick with an HD screen.

Don’t be disappointed by the quality of the gadget’s demo, though. Tested out on both a Mac and PC, its potential was fully realised with a HD film playing on the device within minutes of plugging it in for the first time. It’s reassuringly simple to upload files; with no software to download, you just plug-in, drag and drop – and play. It then stores files in folders, which can be navigated using up / down and enter / back buttons on the side.

The VPD400 is compatible with Windows® 98/2000/SE/ME/XP/Vista and supports multiple audio and video formats (including subtitles): MP3, WMA, FLAL, OGG, AVI, MP4, MPG, H.264, H.263, FLV as well as image files: JPEG, GIF, PNG, BMP, RM/RMVB and can either be hooked up to a TV via the AV-out port or watched with stereo sound using earphones (which are also provided along with a USB, AV and component cables).

Battery life isn’t bad either, providing 12 hours of audio playback and four hours of video playback (3.5 for HD-quality, 720p, video playback). In addition to all that, it has built-in microphone, voice recorder and USB 2.0 port and even ships with a dinky remote control.

Ok, it doesn’t have WiFi or Bluetooth; something that other PMPs often boast. And it also lacks touchscreen abilities. But in the attempt to have it all, the unassuming ViewSonic MovieBook VPD400 has ticked off affordability, simplicity and functionality. And you can’t argue with that.