- August 23, 2009 at 6:22 am #1929
This is not a full review; I will only explain the things most people wanted to know and problems/issues I experienced.
To make a long story short, the picture quality – in English – is so-so. In Cantonese, it’s “ma-ma”. In Singaporean English, it’s “ok la” 🙂 But at this price, I’m not complaining.
It’s tricky and this is my experiences:
1) It already came with the latest firmware – v218b. The latest firmware available on the Utopian.com.hk website was v212a.
2) Before you can record, you will need to go through it’s proprietory disk formatting. Although it formats the HDD to FAT32, it had to generate a lot of 64Mb (65,353 Kb) temp files. The bigger your hard disk, the longer it takes to format, and the more of these 64Mb temp files to create. If you delete one of the temp files, recording could abort and you will need to reformat again. The temp files are stored in a hidden folder named “_MSTBKFS”, so under normal circumstances, you wouldn’t be able to see it (unless you set to show all files in Windows)
3) The most pain in the ass to setup was portable USB hard disks. Good thing I have many different types of hard disks and different type of interfaces and I was able to identify which caused the most problem.
A) I first used a portable USB 2.5″ 160GB SATA hard disk. The enclosure was the MicroData M2DATA USB + eSATA case. I plugged it in and the PVR menu cannot recognize the drive as it claimed no available hard disk. After plugging and unplugging the drive between the 2 USB ports and powering on and off the LCD I managed to get the system to recognize the drive however, I really don’t have a clue how and wjat I did to correct it. It seemed each time is different. And When the system managed to recognize the drive, format the drive will always abort/crash. This is a guaranttee 100% of the time, I think I have tried formating the drive at least 10 times and each time using different cables and each time it refused to format. In the end, I gave up.
Note that when it crashed formatting and if you plug the USB HDD back to Windows, there is a chance that it could hang Windows Disk Management. I used 4 computers (2 desktops and 2 laptops) and 3 of the computers Disk Management hung. One time the only way I can reformat the HDD was to boot to Windows PE (Windows Preinstallation Environment) using diskpart.exe. That time, neither Windows format or Norton Partition Magic can reformat. That was very baffling.
B) I then used a portable USB 2.5″ 80GB PATA hard disk. The enclosure was the TivX 2230 Portable Media Player. I plugged into the TV’s USB ports and again the PVR menu refused to recognize it no matter how many times I tried it. When I placed the hard disk close to my ear, I heard the “tok tok tok” sound that normally associated with “insufficient power”. However, no matter which cable I used and despite plugging in the USB cable’s power plug into the TV’s extra USB ports or to an external USB hub (with external power) I still cannot get the drive to work normally. In the end, I gave up.
C) I then used an older 1GB PQI USB thumbdrive formated as FAT and FINALLY, the PVR Menu was able to recognize and format. I tried using the TV’s recording features and YEEEESSSS it recorded successfully using both the Instant and Scheduled record functions.
D) I then used a SanDisk MicroSDHC USB thumbdrive installed with a Class 4 8GB MicroSDHC memory card and formatted as FAT32. As expected, it worked just as well as the 1GB thumbdrive on formatting and recording. Nothing to write home about.
E) I then removed the SATA hard disk from the MicroData M2DATA enclosure and I plugged it into a Magic-Pro MP-DS168-HCR Docking Station, which is a USB+eSATA cradle. I then connect the USB cable to LCDTV. It recognized it without any problems. I then tried formatting the SATA hard disk and FINALLY I was able to successfully completed formatting the whole drive. Instant and scheduled recording also worked fine.
F) Last but not least, now that I was able to format the 160GB SATA hard disk, I decided to put it back into a USB enclosure and try recording. Only different this time I used yet another USB enclosure, a no-name brand. I then plug the USB hard disk into the TV and well, the PVR Menu refused to recognize it no matter what I did. In the end, I gave up.
Now, here’s the thing I don’t quite understand….the PVR Menu cannot recognize the portable drives but if you use the remote control to switch to STORAGE mode, which is used for watching media files, 100% of the time I was able to access the files placed into all of the USB HDDs. I seriously think this is a major bug.
In summary, cannot format/record for portable 2.5″ USB HDD’s. Only USB thumbdrives and external 3.5″ USB HDD’s are compatible.
Watching Media Files:
1) 720p/1080p H.264 MKV, TS and AVI media files embedded with AC3 (5:1 and stereo) appeared to be smooth in full screen
2) No sound with video files embedded with DTS audio: video without sound
3) No problems with DivX/XviD media files playback
4) No problems displaying Subtitles that were embedded into MKV files (soft subtitles. Not hardcoded subs). You cannot switch off subtitles.
5) No problems displaying external .SRT/.SSA subtitle files. You cannot switch off subtitles. Those are the only 2 types of formats I tested.
6) 1080p MKV and TS video files crashes often when using the Fast Forward feature while playing. This happened to me numerous times.
It’s a joke. The manual is totally useless, both English and Chinese. Common sense is required.
More issues will surface when I use it more often. Thus far, I have only played with it for less than 24 hours.
To be fair, Topcon LCD and LCDTV’s have always been my preference, mainly because of the reasonable prices and richer features. This LCDTV is my 3rd Topcon LCDTV. The last one was a $3300 19″ Topcon LCD-TV that I used for over 3 years but just recently died. Other Topcon monitors include two 15″ and one 19″ monitors in the shelves collecting dust. Finally my wife is using a Topcon 22″ LCD mointor for her PC games.
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