With cable prices soaring higher and higher and some people I know canceling cable all together. To have the ability to watch free HD over the air or shows through the internet sparked my interesting into internet media players. This is really nothing new to me as when I lived with my brother, the two techno-geeks as some would call us, we built our own DVR system with some basic video playback and internet TV capabilities too. The problem was that it was more like building a computer system that plugged into my LCD TV acting as a monitor and having to stay close even with a wireless keyboard which proved to be a pain as you could imagine.
A few months ago I started reading reviews of HD based media players both hard-wired and wireless units and being that I would like the option to watch a variety of internet based programs or local network videos in my bedroom, which is not close to the router, the wireless units seemed to be the best idea. Also, having an Xbox360 and a Wii I really didn’t need to add another device on the downstairs TV.
The majority of these units will play local files from the USB or SATA ports or through your home network and many units also offer HD up converting capabilities too Sure, I have a lot of local and networked files I would like to play but my ultimate goal was to watch a variety of different media content from the web. That’s where a media server like PlayOn or Tversity is a great tool and many of the players will interface with these programs.. PlayOn, which was my software application of choice, will also work on the Xbox and Wii, and turns your home computer into an internet streaming media server. With a new plugins always being developed and released this software package would give a media device the ultimate internet media capabilities. Now the problem was to find a system that supported the PlayON software. After much research and reading many reviews, I came to the conclusion the CinemaGo by Brite-view had everything I wanted. The unit offered included wireless connectivity, Dolby, DTS, HD – 1080p Up-converting a variety of output options, USB and SATA connections and a huge list of playback support of many of the most popular formats. The software interface on the hardware has everything from controls to play videos, music and pictures and bonus options that give you direct connection to Muzee Internet Radio and TV, Flickr access and you can only imagine what additional bonus options are planned. Another awesome option is that has a built in torrent downloader which means if you have an external hard drive connected to the system you can download the latest and greatest torrents.
The setup of the unit was extremely simple and everything, at least from a tech stand point, was pretty self-explanatory but the included instruction guide was very informative too. I hooked the CinemaGo to the TV with the provided HDMI cable, installed the included batteries in the remote and placed wireless USB device in the port. The only thing at this point I felt was a little odd was having this USB stick taking up not only one of my two USB ports but also that It sticks out the front of the unit. This should be something built-in to the unit and have a dedicated USB port for the wireless device. Nevertheless, the remote is very simple, clear and straight-forward making it already a very simple device to navigate. I powered on the unit and immediately the menu appeared and I scrolled through all of my options… including video and music menus and more. I played back a few local media files I had on a thumbdrive and the quality was awesome. I had some stuff in Standard Definition and a few short videos in 720p which played smooth and looked excellent!
Again, my ultimate goal was to get this thing playing internet media. So, I went to the setting menu and setup my wireless connect ion, which was extremely simple, but documentation should be included in case some people need a bit of help. The unit connected to my network and I tested the connection with the included Flickr viewer and Muzee Radio Stations..Which all worked perfectly. I ran a system update which took a few minutes and it added the Muzee Internet TV service which says it is in beta but offers TV from around the globe… and yes I did check it out. There is some very interesting programming on the other side of the planet.
Now ready to actually see more content, I downloaded the 14-DAY Trial of the PlayON service and of course the laptop I installed it on gave me a bunch of errors and it didn’t work. So, I installed on my desktop computer which is always anyway. The service started up and I had tons of included media sites available and now I could go connect my CinemaGo to the new media server. And I did just that..since my media server is on the network and has sharing enabled and now the CinemaGo is on the same network I quickly refreshed my connection options and the PlayON server appeared. This is awesome!
I scrolled through a few media site options and tested videos on YouTube and Hulu.. both standard definition and high definition and honestly both looked great. I have read that some sites might generate “file not supported errors” but I have yet to encounter that and with PlayON third party developers consistently adding new plugins this is really the ultimate media experience. If you are not using the PlayON service there are other options like TVersity and others including ones built into Windows 7 but I chose to use the PlayON service as my system are mostly running XP and not the media center version and I love all the plugins too. For local files, it will connect to your windows media library and play videos, audio and photo and with a wide range of supported formats you really can’t go wrong with this unit.
I can’t wait to try the torrent downloader which I plan to have in a follow-up article in addition to testing out the support of ISO files which will allow you to navigate a video just like that of a DVD menu.. This pint-sized powerful media unit has not only met but far exceed my expectations and with a retail price on www.brite-view.com for only around $100 this is one product that you need to get right now or at least put on your holiday list! And, if you plan on playing internet media then the service like PlayON currently cost around $40 and the $20 a year after that.. which compared to $120+ Cable Bill.. I’ll take it!
You should keep in mind that a lot of content on the web is still not in HD.. so don’t be upset when you watch a video that was shot on a cell phone and it doesn’t look great. Nevertheless, the quality of video and media being delivered is only getting better and faster and the CinemaGo will be right there to play it! Time to watch some more of my favorite programming! For more information or to purchase the CinemaGo visit the company website, www.brite-view.com . Enjoy!
Please also be sure to check out my video review of the CinemaGo at www.expotv.com