The $190 Mediagate portable MPEG-4 player is a clever device that allows you to play multiple media types, including DivX and MPEG-4 formats, by attaching it to a TV and/or receiver. So unlike the more expensive options, you don't get a built-in screen, which means you won't be using it to keep the kids quiet in the back of the car on long journeys.
- Easy to set up and use
- Documentation idiosyncrasies
It's a decent solution if you want a way to take your movies with you, providing your destination has a TV.
Price$ 190.00 (AUD)
The Mediagate is essentially a USB 2.0, 2.5" hard drive enclosure that comes with built-in software for playing media files, a collection of cables for connecting it to TV and receiver, and a remote control to operate it. What it doesn't come with is a hard drive--you must purchase a 2.5" notebook hard drive yourself and install it in the enclosure. You'll need to make sure you've preformatted the hard drive, but other than that, installation is straightforward: pop the lid on the player, unscrew the circuit board, push the hard drive into the slot, screw the board back into the enclosure and you're away. Plug it into a USB port on a Windows XP PC and it shows up as a removable drive (you'll need to connect its AC adapter too, naturally).
With the drive connected to a PC, you simply copy your files over. Since it's a high-speed USB 2.0 device, copying large files is painless as long as you've plugged it into a high-speed USB port on the PC. To view or play them, you connect the Mediagate to a TV set and/or receiver using the supplied cables, of which you get quite an assortment. The device has S-Video, composite or component connections for video, and stereo or 5.1 sound.
The Mediagate supports all manner of standard video formats, including MP3 and MPEG-4, and will display still images too. It even supports 5.1-channel sound.
A simple menu interface displayed on the TV lets you navigate through options using the unit's remote control. It's not a fancy setup, but it gets the job done. You also get drivers for using it with Windows 98/SE (XP doesn't require any drivers).
Apart from some idiosyncratic English in the instructions, the device is simple to set up and use, and does a reasonable job. The quality of your video will depend on the media files you are using--garbage in, garbage out, as it were. But when I tried high-quality MPEGs ripped from DVDs--saved at their original resolution and complete with their 5.1-channel soundtrack--the result was quite respectable.
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