I have reviewed every single Tivx that has ever been released in Australia and this is by far the best of the lot. However, while it is a great product in many respects, it also has its drawbacks as well – drawbacks that may hinder the average consumer picking it up. It has a whole lot of power with the ability to play an incredible array of file formats and it can do things that its competitors don’t. It is a PVR and media player but it also has network sharing and online features as well. The problem comes with the network sharing and online features. When it comes to PVR functionality and media player capabilities, this is an incredible product but everything else is clumsy, difficult to use and feels unfinished.
The Tvix has always had trouble finding its market in this country. Retailers simply couldn’t understand how to place it in their stores since it acted much like an IT product but desperately wanted to appeal to the consumer space. The problem in the past has been that the Tvix didn’t come with a hard drive and so you needed to buy one separately and then have the know-how to install it. Sure, installing a hard drive is very easy but to the average consumer it was grounds enough to balk at the purchase, if they could find one to buy in the first place. With the M-6600, Dvico have made some excellent steps in the right direction.
The device looks like a consumer device and comes with a one terabyte hard drive. Setting it up out of the box requires little to no effort and its functionality is simple to understand thanks to the new improved user interface. Dvico have streamlined the interface and made it look far more sophisticated with large icons and basic categories like movies, live TV, music and the like.
If you just want to watch and record television or play media downloaded online on the Tvix box itself, it will be a great purchase. If you want to stream files over your network, you will need a little IT networking knowledge to get it up and running. It comes with Tvix Netshare software which doesn’t seem to do anything. I spent many hours trying to get it to work and found the only way to get any kind of sharing to happen was to use the sharing options built in to Windows. The problem with this is that you leave your files venerable to other users on the network and the outside world as well.
Compare this with the file sharing on the Playstation 3, Xbox 360, WDTV HD, LG M409D PVR and a host of other products and it is clearly inferior. I tried using the Tversity media server software as it works perfectly on all those other devices but it couldn’t see the Tvix on the network. The only option was to use windows sharing. This was particularly annoying because it meant that I would need to move files I wanted to view to specific folders so the Tvix would see them or share the folders they were already in. It would have been much better if the netshare software was like Tversity where I could point it at a specific folder and tell it to share the contents without having to use the windows option.
The Internet features are also very mediocre. The interface is slick when using any of the other features but when you venture into the online features it gets very rough around the edges. The Youtube functionality is poor. It has trouble working most of the time, is slow to respond and is limited to the very basics of YouTube like featured, most discussed and whatnot with no option to log into your own account. Picassa was better though with the ability to log into your own account and the UI for it was also much better. There are other features as well that are targeted at the Asian market and many of the websites it has available are Asian language. A little more localisation was required before releasing in Australia. The weather service doesn’t even have Australia as an option.
As a PVR it works brilliantly. It has a dual tuner so you can record one program while watching another. Scheduling programs to record is fairly straight forward and the image quality and speed of the channel switching is top notch. The EPG functionality is fairly basic and since there is no IceTV support as yet, you are limited to what the networks provide.
As a media player, it is exceptional. Like previous Tvix models, there is very few file formats that it rejects. It can play quite a few formats that most players don’t like MKV video and FLAC audio and has full support for 1080p H.264 playback.
I was disappointed at the connection options though. The previous models had component video which this iteration does not. It has composite and HDMI which is great but for those that want HD but either don’t have HDMI or have run out of HDMI ports, Component would have been a nice option. It does have optical audio though which means you can hook it up to your home theatre system. It also has two USB ports which you can use to play files directly from a USB flash drive or portable hard drive.
One of the biggest upgrades in this model is the inclusion of WiFi. Previously you needed to have a USB dongle to get WiFi working and even then, not many dongles were supported. The M-6600N has 802.11n wireless Ethernet built-in. Be aware though that the M-6600A does not have WiFi so if it is a feature that is important to you, make sure you are buying the right model.
The Tvix is available now in the IT channel but not in retail stores just yet. I spoke with Dvico about the issues with the device and their strategies for getting it to market. I was told that they are aiming for an early 2010 release into the retail space and are currently negotiating with various large retailers to get it out there. Also, the firmware of the device we were sent was recently updated whereas the Netshare software on the disc only worked with a previous version of the software. An update of the NetShare software is available online but the software doesn’t prompt you to update so you are left clueless as to the problem with the sharing.
Also, DVico are in talks with IceTV to get support for their EPG on the device before launching in 2010. They will also have a new firmware ready to go which I am told will fix many of the UI issues like the YouTube functionality. Tversity media server worked perfectly with the previous version of the firmware, I’m told, but doesn’t work with the current version. This is something Dvico will look into fixing for the next update.
Unfortunately, I can only base a review on the product as presented to me and not as it will be in the future and as such the score reflects purely the device as it is now. With improvements to the networking functionality and with the few nagging issues worked out, this will be quite an incredible product and something worth picking up. As it stands now, for PVR and media player use, it is excellent but if you want to stream files over a network or view online content, it will be a painful exercise. Here’s hoping the firmware at launch is as impressive as Dvico hopes it will be.