Tuesday, 17 August 2010

Sumvision Cyclone MKV

I've wanted to try out some sort of media streaming for a while. My television has a USB socket, and will play music or show slideshows, but no video. My DVD player on the TV upstairs has a USB socket and will play back HD files, but not all of them - it fails on DivX5.

What I really wanted was some sort of cheap box that could wirelessly stream media from my Linux box to a TV.

So, some searching later, and I purchased a Sumvision cyclone MKV streamer - the one without the internal harddisk. About £65 or so from Ebuyer. Also went for the USB wireless N adapter to go with it at about £15. This device can play back almost anything up to 1080P via the HDMI connector - although the cable is NOT supplied which is a bit cheap.

First thoughts are how tiny it is. Not much bigger than my hand. Plenty of connectors on the back and side, but I just needed power, somewhere to plug the adapter and the HDMI. The picture quality of the GUI on my 1080P is really good, and playing back HD video from the SD card adapter showed the playback quality was also very good.

The wireless network was easy to set up and worked first time - my network is G so not getting the benefit of the N adapter though. Running MediaTomb on my Linux box and I could stream files easily over UPNP. The main problem was that ISO images would not run - they gave an invalid file error. This I think is down to network speed. Running them from SD card worked fine, but over the network they bombed. Probably the streamer needed to download a lot of the ISO before it could run it, and it timed out before it could load enough. I have now directly connected the box to my router as they are only 1m apart, to reduce the wireless traffic, but won't have that option when I put another of these boxes upstairs

So, my initial plan of using ISO images failed at the first hurdle, but I think this may be a good thing. Instead I have been slowly ripping my DVD collection and transcoding to MPEG4 instead of leaving as ISO. This means I am going to use up a LOT less disk space but I lose the DVD menus - and to be honest not so worried about those anyway.

I'd prefer in fact to transcode to H264, but so far have not persuaded my Ubuntu box to do that. I'm using DVD::Rip which works really well, but I get an error on h264 encoding. I have some ideas what the problem may be so will write them up if successful fixed.

So in precis, the streamer works fine (although it does run very very hot) when wirelessly connected as long as you don't use ISO images. It's easy to just select what you want to watch from a list on the screen rather than digging through a cupboard of DVD's

Transcoding the DVD's is going to take ages though - two weeks and I have only done the children's DVD's so far! Still, as long as my backups work, I won't have to do it all again!