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Appeared on: Monday, September 06, 2004
Aopen MVP player


1. Introduction - Retail Package

AOpen MVP Player - Page 1

End users are attracted to devices that can play almost any video format. Many manufacturers are making DivX certified players, almost all stand-alone DVD Players can now handle mp3 files, and photo discs are now compatible with consumers players. All these devices use CD or DVD discs to read the required data. AOpen has come up with a different way to play multimedia files.

The MVP Player is the latest universal player introduced by AOpen. It can play all popular video formats, along with audio and image formats. The main difference from all the other multimedia players is that AOpen's device uses a 2.5" or 1.8" hard disk drive to play all supported formats. It can also be used as a Multimedia Card projector to view pictures on any TV or PC monitor.

- Features

The MVP player can handle VideoCD / MPEG-1 files and DVD video / MPEG-2 files. Special DVD Video functions like Multi-angle selection are not supported. DivX video playback is also supported.

It is compatible with both PAL and NTSC TV screen standards. It can be connected to any TV using composite or S-Video output, and it can also be connected to a PC monitor using normal VGA output. The VGA resolution reaches 1024 X 768.

AOpen's player can playback the popular mp3 file format, along with the well known Microsoft Windows Media WMA file format. It uses a simple stereo audio output. Users will enjoy the equalizer functionality this device has to offer. You can choose between several audio equalizer presets to further enhance your listening pleasure.

 

 

 

 

- Specifications

AOpen MVP Player
Supported Format
Video
MPEG-1
MPEG-2
MPEG-4
Motion JPEG
Music
MP3
WMA
Photo
JPEG
Supported Devices
Storage Media
2.5" or 1.8" HDD
CFI / CFII
MD
MMC
MS
SD
SM
Display Output
TV (PAL, NTSC)
Composite
S-Video
YUV (optional)
Audio Output
Stereo Audio
OSD
English
Power Adaptor
Input:
~100-240V, 50-60Hz
Output:
DC +5V, Max 1.4A
Dimension (mm)
Device Dimension
162 X 114 X 29
162 X 114 X 133 (HDD Enclosure Plug-in)
Packing Dimension
315 X 260 X 50
Weight (g)
Net Weight
200
250 (include HDD Enclosure)
Cross Weight
1000

The hard disk drive only the enclosure is included in the package.

- Retail Package

The retail package includes the MVP player, a HDD enclosure with a stylish cover, the device's remote control, an AC adapter, and a multi-language user's manual along with an 8mm compact disc containing all required drivers for the HDD.

The package also includes all needed cables to connect the player to any TV or PC monitor. Unfortunately, these cables are standard low quality cables that more advanced users might need to replace with high grade cables to minimize signal "noise". However, most end users will not have any problems using these cables.

You may notice that there is no AC adapter for the HDD enclosure. The enclosure uses 2 USB2.0 ports to connect to a PC, getting all the power supply it needs from these USB ports. So, there is no need for a power adapter. The small pen that appears at the bottom of the image above, is in fact a screwdriver that can be used to install the 2.5" hard disk in the enclosure.

On the front panel of the device, we can see the Multimedia Card slots. The device supports all popular Multimedia Cards. On the left side, you can see the remote receiver.

The back panel is far more interesting. Here you can see all the video and audio outputs available on the device, including the NTSC/PAL and On/Off switches.

On the top of the device, you can see the HDD slot that you can use to insert the HDD enclosure. Simple device functions can also be controlled from the top panel while more advanced functions can only be controlled with the remote control provided.

It should be noted that the device cannot connect with a PC. So, it can not be used as a normal card reader. Another drawback is that no files can be transferred from the hard disk to the multimedia cards or vice-versa. You can use the hard disk with a multimedia card at the same time, but only one card can be inserted. We tried to insert more than one multimedia card, and the device freezes when it tries to initialize the cards.


2. Inside the MVP Player

AOpen MVP Player - Page 2

The MVP Player

Opening the device's case will void the warranty, so we advise against it. Instead, use the photos in this review for a closer look under the hood. Clicking on the image below will reveal a high resolution image.

click to enlarge!

As you can see, the MVP player uses the card reader system from Proconn Technology Co. Taking a closer look at the MVP's mainboard, we can see the "heart" of the device, the ESS DMP2 chipset.

DMP stands for Decode Media Protocol. The main DMP concept includes a single chip processor that is able to playback the most popular media formats. Generally, this second version of DMP chipsets provide the following:

The first version of these chipsets, the DMP1, supports S-Video/Composite output. The DMP2 supports S-Video/Composite and RGB for monitors up to 1024x768 resolution. The is a third version of this chipset, the DMP3 that adds TFT LCD panel support for photo frame and USB connectivity.

The device uses 8MB SDRAM from ICSI for temporary storage.

On the device's mainboard, you will find several other smaller chipsets that are used to handle audio and video signals, like the Philips octal buffer/line driver and Priceton's headphone driver.


3. HDD Enclosure Installation

AOpen MVP Player - Page 3

HDD Enclosure Installation

All you have to do to install the device is just plug it in, and you are ready to go! We used several multimedia cards along with a Seagate Momentus 40GB 2.5" hard disk drive.

Unfortunately, no hard disk is included in the retail package, so you have to purchase it seperately. The image above shows the HDD enclosure that is provided by AOpen. The small led appears on the bottom left of the enclosure, lights up green when the device is idle and red when data is being transfered.

On the back panel of the enclosure, you can see the USB2.0 connector and the MVP connector. As explained earlier, there is no need for any additional power connection since the USB ports provide all the required power.

We had no problem installing this drive on our test PC running Microsoft Windows XP Pro operating system. However, there is a driver installation CD included in the package for older operating systems.

We formatted the drive for different file systems. NTFS file system discs cannot be read by the MVP player, indicating that the disc is empty, even if the disc is nearly full. Only FAT and FAT32 file systems are readable. The device supports long filenames.


4. MVP Configuration

AOpen MVP Player - Page 4

MVP Configuration

For best viewing, you should configure the device to match your needs. The MVP player offers an easy to use setup menu. You can configure almost anything. The setup screen is shown below.

For best photo viewing, you can set to on or off the thumbnail digest function, the transition mode (from slow to fast), and the orientation feature for photos. The following images indicate the configurations we used for this test.

Not much to setup for music. You can only change the track repeat mode. However, during music playback, there are a few more options available that will be discussed later on in this review.

The MVP player supports the Photo Slideshow function. Setting the slideshow mode to auto will enable the device to automatically start slideshow viewing when images are stored in the used media (hard disk or multimedia card). The slideshow interval time can also be changed from one to ten seconds.

Like the music setup, there is not much to change for the movie setup. Unfortunately, there is no aspect ration option for 16:9 and 4:3 viewing. Only movie interval time and repeat mode can be changed. Again, the images below indicate the configurations we used for our tests.

The auto start menu sets the default mode the device will automatically use when it is turned on or when a new storage media is inserted. We turned off the auto start function in order to choose the appropriate mode ourselves everytime the MVP is turned on.

From the preferences page, you can choose the video output the device will use. VGA mode is used for PC monitor viewing while S-Video/Component is used for TV screen viewing. We tried all available video outputs and there was no difference in functionality between S-Video/Composite and VGA mode.

There's also an option to set all configurations to default values.


5. Video/Audio files analysis

AOpen MVP Player - Page 5

Video/Audio files analysis

We used several codecs to convert certain reference video files to different formats. We also used several DivX and XviD codecs to check the compatibility of the MVP player with different codec versions. When MPEG-1 and MPEG-2 playback was investigated, we used mpeg files, along with DAT (VideoCD) and VOB/IFO (DVD movie) files. The following pictures show the information we observed for these files with MovieID 1.02 and AviCheck 4.06. It is noted that we also used files with Quarter Pixel flags to see if the MVP can handle files with the QPEL function enabled.

- DivX format

- XviD format

- Indeo files

- VideoCD files

- Super VideoCD files

- MPEG-2 / DVD Video files


6. File Mode

AOpen MVP Player - Page 6

File Mode

When we turned the device on, a welcome screen prompts us to choose which storage media to read.

After selecting the appropriate media, the device's introductory screen prompts us to choose which mode to use.

The MVP player offers a very useful file mode function. The player is used as a normal file explorer, just like your PC's explorer. This function can be used with either a hard disk or multimedia card.

The handy explorer uses several icons to distinguish the supported files, such as VCD, mp3 e.t.c.

File mode will also be discussed later on in this review where we investigate the video preview function the file library offers.


7. Photo Mode

AOpen MVP Player - Page 7

Photo Mode

The MVP player supports photo mode for playing back jpg files and it also supports thumbnail viewing. The following images show how a 1024X768 jpg file is displayed on the MVP player.

The music slideshow function is something that end users will realy enjoy. You can now have mp3 and wma files along with jpg files in one storage media, and view a complete slideshow with your favourite background music. This function can only be enabled from the remote control.

The MVP player also supports the zoom function, as shown below.

We tested different image filetypes to check the compatibility of the MVP player with different formats. We tested PNG, GIF and animated GIF, BMP, WBMP, and TIFF formats. Unfortunately, the only image format the MVP supports is jpg files.


8. Video Mode

AOpen MVP Player - Page 8

Video Mode

The MVP player supports almost all popular video formats. The video playback mode uses small thumbnails to preview a few seconds of every video file. Thumbnail images are moving pictures and not still images. Clicking on a thumbnail will start the selected movie.

During playback, you can always see information about the video file playing. This function is controlled through the remote control.

These pictures show video playback of DivX and XviD video formats. You will notice that the total playback time cannot be calculated for compressed video formats. Only playing time and file name are shown.

On the other hand, total playback time can be calculated by the MVP player when MPEG-1 and MPEG-2 files are used.

If you have too many video files stored, file mode might be more handy for handling video files. Using file mode makes it easier to find the file you want to view.

You can see a small preview of the video file that is highlighted, and you can also see some information about the file, like file size and file creation date.

In order to check the DivX/XviD subtitle support of the MVP player, we created a small DivX and small XviD file and used the same file name for the subtitle files. We converted the subtitle to MicroDVD format (.sub, .txt) and to SubRip format (.srt, .txt) which are the most popular subtitle formats. The following screenshot shows the video file along with the subtitle files in the same folder.

The question mark on the left side of the subtitles' filenames indicates that the MVP player does not support this filetype. However, when we tried to playback the movie, no subtitles were shown. So in general, the MPV player does not support DivX/XviD subtitles.

We also tried to playback compressed video files with Quarter Pixel flags to see if the MVP can handle files with the QPEL function enabled. In file mode, the following image was produced. The error message shown indicates that the MVP player cannot handle video streams with Quarter Pixel flags.

The following table indicates the video file formats that were tested and the results we observed.

AOpen MVP Player
Video Codec / Format
Compatibility
DivX 5.1.1
Playback is perfect
DivX 5.2
Playback is perfect
DivX 3.11 alpha version
Playback is perfect
DivX 2
Playback is perfect
DivX 3
Playback is perfect
3ivX 4.5.1
Playback is jerky
Cinepak 1.10.0.11
Playback is perfect
Indeo Video 4.5
Playback is perfect
Indeo Video 5.10
Playback is perfect
DivX 4.1
Video format is not supported
XviD 1.01
Playback is perfect
Microsoft Media 9
Video format is not supported
MPEG-1 VideoCD
Playback is perfect
Canopus Soft DVSD
Video format is not supported
DAT VideoCD
Playback is perfect
Super VideoCD MPEG
Playback is perfect
MPEG-2
Playback is perfect
VOB MPEG-2
Playback is perfect
DivX and Xvid with subtitles
Playback is perfect but no subtitle support

It should be noted that no DVD menu functions are supported. This means that if you have VOB and IFO files in a folder, you will be able to view movie files but IFO file information is not passed through the VOB file playback.

It should also be noted that the MVP only offers stereo outputs, and there is no support for 5.1 or Dolby Surround output. Unfortunately, video files that contain special 5.1 audio streams have to be downmixed to simple stereo / stereo wide audio streams.


9. Music Mode

AOpen MVP Player - Page 9

Music Mode

The MVP player can be easily used as a music media player, being able to handle mp3 and wma files. In music mode, the player produces a list of all playable files and starts the playback automatically. However, some users might find the file mode easier to use, even with audio files. The following image shows the way the file library handles Windows Media files.

Again, as with movie files, you can see some information in file mode, like total time duration of a track, the file size, audio channel and bitrate information. When a file is highlighted, audio playback starts. If you select an audio file, you will also see the Music Equalizer.

There is a variety of equalizer presets you can choose to further enhance audio performance. These EQ preset settings are shown in the following images.

We would like to see the MVP player support custom equalizer settings, which unfortunately is not currently available. Users can only choose from one of the predefined equalizer settings.

The following table contains audio file formats that were tested and the results we observed.

AOpen MVP Player
Audio Codec / Format
Compatibility
mp3 CBR 20kBit 11025Hz Mono
Playback is perfect
mp3 CBR 20kBit 11025Hz Stereo
Playback is perfect
mp3 CBR 32kBit 11025Hz Stereo
Playback is perfect
mp3 CBR 32kBit 22050Hz Mono
Playback is perfect
mp3 CBR 40kBit 22050Hz Stereo
Playback is perfect
mp3 CBR 48kBit 22050Hz Stereo
Playback is perfect
mp3 CBR 48kBit 44100Hz Mono
Playback is perfect
mp3 CBR 56kBit 22050Hz Mono
Playback is perfect
mp3 CBR 56kBit 44100Hz Mono
Playback is perfect
mp3 CBR 64kBit 22050Hz Stereo
Playback is perfect
mp3 CBR 96kBit 22050Hz Stereo
Playback is perfect
mp3 CBR 96kBit 44100Hz Mono
Playback is perfect
mp3 CBR 96kBit 44100Hz Stereo
Playback is perfect
mp3 CBR 112kBit 44100Hz Stereo
Playback is perfect
mp3 CBR 128kBit 44100Hz Mono
Playback is perfect
mp3 CBR 128kBit 44100Hz Stereo
Playback is perfect
mp3 CBR 160kBit 44100Hz Stereo
Playback is perfect
mp3 CBR 192kBit 44100Hz Stereo
Playback is perfect
mp3 CBR 224kBit 44100Hz Stereo
Playback is perfect
mp3 CBR 256kBit 44100Hz Stereo
Playback is perfect
mp3 CBR 320kBit 44100Hz Stereo
Playback is perfect
mp3 VBR high quality
Playback is perfect
mp3 VBR highest quality
Playback is perfect
mp3 VBR low quality
Playback is perfect
mp3 VBR lowest quality
Playback is perfect
mp3 VBR medium quality
Playback is perfect
Ogg Vorbis Format
Audio format is not supported
WAV Format
Audio format is not supported
WMA 48kbps
Playback is perfect
WMA 64kbps
Playback is perfect
WMA 96kbps
Playback is perfect
WMA 128kbps
Playback is perfect
WMA 160kbps
Playback is perfect
WMA 192kbps
Playback is perfect

It should be reminded that the MVP only offers stereo outputs, and there is no special audio output interface available, such as an optical output.


10. Conclusions

AOpen MVP Player - Page 10

Conclusions

The AOpen MVP player is indeed a universal multimedia playback device. The question that still remains is will this device replace standard DVD players? And the answer is rather simple. This type of device is not yet able to replace stand-alone DVD players. But that was never the purpose of the MVP player. Simple DVD video menu functions are not supported, there is no option for 16:9 and 4:3 screen viewing, and last but not least, stand-alone DVD players offer better sound quality than the basic level stereo channel sound the MVP has to offer.

However, AOpen offers a versatile device that can be used as a simple DivX/XviD player, or even as a simple DVD player. Music playback sounds great with a wide range of supported quality formats, especially when equalizer presets are used.

The external HDD enclosure can also be used to convert a 2.5" hard disk into an external USB2.0 storage drive. The remote control makes things even easier, with a rather long range. Unfortunately, PC connectivity is something that we all missed, since the MVP player cannot be used as a card reader.

The device is available in two different colors, the black coloured device that we received, and a red coloured device. The retail package has everything a user will need to get started, but the hard disk drive is not included since this whould raise the price.

- The Good

- The Bad



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