The Mede8er brand specializes in 2D and 3D digital multimedia players. Its most recent products, the Mede8er MED600X3D, Mede8ter MED800X3D and Mede8ter MED1000X3D (with internal hard drive rack) are made up of a set of (SoC) Realtek RTD 1186 components. This week, we have decided to test the small Mede8er X6003D, which seems to be a cost-effective solution for whoever wishes to stream DVD or Blu-ray ISO images, MKV files and any type of audio file stored on a USB hard drive or NAS. The Mede8er MED600X3D can also be used as a DLNA media renderer connected to a computer, smartphone or tablet.
A closer look at the Realtek 1186 chipset
This set of components is the only quality alternative to the predominant Sigma Design 8272 chipset for decoding HD audio and video files. This Soc has a clock rate of 750 MHz and features graphic controllers as well as USB, S/PDIF/ Ethernet, WiFi controllers and an indexing and multimedia streaming firmware. It is compatible with Mpeg-1/2/4.2/4, XviD (but not DivX), WMV 9 and Realvideo 10 audio stream. It is also compatible with MP2, MP3, OGG, PCM, AAC, Real Audio, DTS, Dolby Digital (HD solely in HDMI pass-through), FLAC 24/192 and WMA audio files. Many formats use these audio and video streams such as ISO Blu-ray, ISO-DVD, BDMV, AVI, MKV, TS, M2TS, VOB, ASF, etc. Subtitles in text and graphic formats are also compatible. The USB controller is compatible with hard drives up to 4 Tb, with FAT32, NTFS or HFS+ (Mac) partitions.
DivX format AVI files in Mpeg-4 video stream cannot be read. Nevertheless, the FourCC Changer freeware lets you transform any AVI DivX file into an AVI XviD, which are read by the MED600X3D.
The Mede8ter MED600X3D comes with an IR remote control (with battery), a 1.4 HDMI cable and an audio-video analog cable.
Despite its format, the device displays a comprehensive set of connections. In addition to the 1.4 HDMI output (CEC compatible) is an optical Toslink S/PDIF output, a video component output (1080i max), a composite video output (576i max) and an RCA stereo audio output. The Realtek 1186 chipset’s Ethernet controller is a Gigabit model, perfectly able to stream ISO Blu-ray from a NAS. The back panel of our test model was fitted with a WiFi antenna connector. On the sides are 2 USB ports as well as a slot for an SD card or Sony Duo Card.
There are good things and not so good things with this remote control. We liked the button on the side to activate the blue back-lighting. Given the large amount of buttons, Mede8er had a really good idea. The device responds quickly to the different signals. A slight drawback is the vertical scrolling of folders/files list which is too fast at times, to the point where it can be difficult to find a film in a long list of titles.
Compared to the interface of a Zappiti Player Mini or a Dune player, the Mede8er is rather simple to handle. The home screen and the various sub-menus are clear. The access to the connected USB drives is quick and so is the network access. Once the shortcuts to the different film folders of our Synology NAS was set up, we configured the Mede8er MED600X3D to open them at each start. Note that the device comes extremely quickly out of sleep mode.
Indexing films and series
The Mede8er MED600X3D can index films and series stored on USB drives or the network (NAS). All there is to do is to install an application via the device’s interface. This program features a ?scraper? which researches the TmDB database based on the title of the video. In order to avoid any possible indexing mistake it is necessary to place each video in a dedicated folder and give a clear name to the file.
For instance, a file named bdrip_avengers_x264_DDTHD.mkv should ideally be named Avengers (2012).mkv. Adding the year of the release will help the scraper to choose the right film from a list of movies with similar titles (King Kong 1933, 1976, 2005 for instance).
The FileBot freeware will be a helpful tool in this naming process.
The import language depends on the one you chose for the Mede8er MED600X3D’s interface. If the folders are stored on a NAS, be sure not to grant write permission in Samba or to set up a username and password to obtain write permission for these folders. The Mede8er MED600X3D will create 3 files in each folder: a poster (jpeg), a fanart poster (jpeg) and a description with additional notes and film cast (XML). Once one of these files is created, it is possible to switch from the list display to a poster wall display. The browser flows well which is a really good point.
We would like to insist on the fact that the MyMovies software (not free) lets you handle the indexing process with a computer, directly from the connected drive or NAS.
A slight drawback is that the only control app for Android, DroidME83e (which is not developed by Mede8er), is not really stable. Although it detects the device and starts loading our film index, it crashes invariably on our Nexus 7 tablet. However, the developer regularly offers updates for this app. Wait and see?
We will soon publish more details concerning the indexing.
Absolutely astonishing! So much progress was accomplished in just a few years. The picture is contrasted and the colours are vivid (without being outrageous), the blacks are well done ? never saturated ? and there is no need to modify the ICC profile of the HDMI output (which is the case with the Dune HD player). The flow is nothing short of perfect, even with low rate Mpeg-4 video stream. Our plasma TV was radiant with each program we watched.
François Ozon’s 8 Femmes quickly became mesmerizing due to the colour density and the precision of backgrounds, without ever being overdone. The interior scenes from Season 3 of Game of Thrones (Blu-ray ISO) and its natural lighting were outstanding. It is difficult to keep in mind that we are using an entry-level model. Pacific Rim’s night time combat scenes in Tokyo are delivered with a lot of energy, even though the Mede8er MED600X3D cannot rival with a PopCorn Hour A410M (test soon to be published on this blog) on this level.
Note: We did not do a 3D test. Do not hesitate to let us know if you would like us to conduct one.
Mpeg-2 decoding: the (very) good surprise
For those who transferred their DVD collection to ISO format, be aware that the MED600X3D does an excellent job decoding Mpeg-2 video stream. This point needs to be brought up since most video decoding microchips (including the Sigma Design) are not optimised for Mpeg-4-10 (ISO Blu-ray, MKV h.264) decoding anymore. This therefore results in a blunt picture, making watching a film irritating or completely unbearable.
The Realtek RTD 1186 microchip used in the Mede8er MED600X3D delivers a well balanced picture, with well defined blacks. The deinterlacing and upscaling of the 576i format to 1080p is beyond reproach. It is clean, flows well and is not exceedingly swarming.
Out of curiosity, we demuxed a film on DVD then muxed it in MKV format, while integrating various existing audio tracks and adding text subtitles in .SRT format. Usually, MKV files with Mpeg2-stream can encounter issues with AV synchronisation. With the Mede8er, our file was flowing without any problem. We didn’t see any issue in the menu management with the ISO files we used for this test.
DTS using HDMI and S/PDIF
Despite the competitive price of their multimedia player, Mede8er ensure that their devices are DTS and DTS HD compatible. These audio streams are either conveyed without any modification or are converted in PCM format via the HDMI and S/PDIF outputs. It?s worth noting that for an S/PDIF output, only the ?core? DTS of a Master Audio HD DTS stream is transmitted which isn’t down to the player but is related to the the output?s technical constraints. The same applies to the Core Dolby Digital of a Dolby True HD stream. Let’s also point out that analog conversion isn’t offered for DTS format. This isn’t important as stereo analog outputs don’t claim to have audiophile features.
Dynamic range control
If you do not own a home cinema amplifier yet have a stereo amplifier with digital inputs, which usually do not feature a dynamic range treatment, the Mede8er does an excellent job in this area. The compression of the dynamic margin works remarkably. Once the downmix is activated in PCM stereo via the HDMI output, we immediately noticed that the Mede8er was compressing the audio track more efficiently than our Pioneer SC-LX57 amplifier. Action packed films such as The Avengers or Thor can be watched late at night without waking everybody up.
DLNA DMR mode
The DLNA Digital Media Renderer allows you to use the Mede8er MED600X3D multimedia player as a media renderer. In other words, a smartphone, a computer or a NAS can directly stream a video with the MED600X3D which will immediately play it. A very appealing function on paper, which shows a few limits. If reading low rate HD video files is no problem, streaming an MKV file extracted from a Blu-ray can result in a slight lagging while decoding, despite our Gigabit Ethernet network. The same film, once read by the Mede8er MED600X3D (and not streamed to it), flows perfectly. Hard to blame the Mede8er rather than our Synology NAS, but this DLNA DMR should be used for smaller audio or video files.
We wanted to see how a Plex server hosted on our Synology NAS with the Mede8er MED600X3D would work via the DLNA DMR mode, while controlling the streaming via the Plex app for iOS on our iPad. It worked, yet we encountered the same slight lagging problem, plus we couldn’t change the audio track or add external subtitles while watching the film.
Playing a video via WiFi
The version of the Mede8er MED600X3D we tested was equipped with a WiFi 802.11n controller. It was no surprise to see that reading low rate 720p videos (4 Go for 2h) was absolutely not a problem, yet we need to add that the Mede8er M600X3D was about 1 metre away from our Netgear WiFi router. On the other hand, we encountered a few untimely interruptions while watching a 2 hr 12 Go movie in 1080p. Our conclusion is that the Mede8er MED600X3D doesn’t do better than most of its competition, thus confirming that HD video and WiFi don’t go well together.
The Mede8er MED600x3D may not be aesthetically pleasing and you probably still don’t know how to pronounce its name (mediator), but for whoever wants to enjoy a beautiful picture definition, in Mpeg-4 or Mpeg-2, this Mede8er MED600X3D is a safe bet. In the mini-multimedia player category, the Mede8er MED600X3D and its Realtek RTD 1186 microchip seem superior to other players using a Sigma Design 8672 chip. For a superior image quality, consider having a look at the PopCorn Hour A410 and its excellent Sigma Design 8911 chip with VXP treatment. We will be reviewing this product in the near future.