Looking at the specifications alone, this device has all the boxes ticked. It can handle Full HD videos in MKV, MPG, AVI, WMV, DIVX, VOB, TP, TS, TRP, DAT, IISO, IFO, M2T, M2TS, MOV, and FLV files, audio files saved in FLAC, MP3, WMA, ACC, OGG, WAV formats. The unit can also read photos saved in JPEG, BMP, PNG, GIF, and TIF format. The unit can also stream files stored on networked drives for added versatility.
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The N1's cylindrical form factor is inspired by a coffee mug, with Dvico saying that it offers a 'Cup of Digital Media Time'. Users can find two USB ports, an optical out, the Component, Composite, Stereo out, HDMI, and Ethernet at the rear, while the power button, USB port, and card reader are found on top of the unit hidden underneath a flap.
There are no control buttons on the N1, so users must make sure that they do not lose the remote that is included. The keys are well-labelled so it wasn't hard for us to browse through the unit's main menu.
We updated the firmware to the latest version (1.9.9) before fully testing out the unit. The N1 booted up in about 15 seconds and immediately displayed the main menu. There are only five main options to choose from - Movie, Music, Photo, IMS, and Setup.
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We played a couple of movies on the N1 only to find that the unit sometimes struggled with HD videos. Not only were there times when the screen blacks out for a couple of seconds before continuing on, there were also times when it crashes and turns itself off. Looking at photos could have been better if the N1 was responsive enough to know that we wanted to move on to the next photo and not lag on us for a long time.
The Dvico N1 also allowed users to watch YouTube videos and see photos (Picasa and Flickr) via its Internet Media Service. The search function application (for YouTube) looked messy - the layout was all over the place and we got confused at times. Users cannot choose the resolution, resulting to pixelised videos. We also encountered times when the chosen video did not play at all. Divco has also included access to Youku, PPS, Gougou, ThunderVOD, Sina TV, and CNN podcasts.
The latest patch allowed us to use our notebook, iPod touch, and iPhone as a remote control. By opening an Internet browser (like Chrome/ Safari/ IE) and typing the IP address of N1, users can browse data store on the USB.
While the Dvico TVIX HD N1 promises a lot, it is unable to deliver and falls short in giving users an easy to use media box that works. A couple of patches may iron out the problems, but those who want something better should look elsewhere. It is available now for $249.