The amount of media content building up in our lives is getting amazing: Music, pictures, videos, we are simply swimming in media. Having all of that content on our computers is nice, but sometimes we'd like to get it on our TVs so everyone in the home could enjoy it, and while there are solutions to hook your computer to your TV, the majority of those are cumbersome.
The package is contents are pretty straightforward:
- CinemaTube media streamer
- Remote (two double AAs come packaged in the remote, which is the first time I've ever seen that)
- Power cord
- Cat5 Ethernet cable
- RCA cable set
- Instruction manual
- Quick start guide
Everything you need to get started is here, and it's pretty straight forward. Plug it in, hook it to your TV (I opted for HDMI as I had a spare cable laying around), plug it in to your home network … done.
Once I turned it on and selected it as my input the menus were there and are easy to read and fairly intuitive. Everything is clearly labeled, and though I expected to have to go through some setup, I didn't; it was talking to my network, could see my laptop already and I could easily browse all of the media stored on my laptop right from the screen without ever having to touch my computer. If you have users and passwords set up on your computer it will prompt you to enter all of that information using an on-screen keyboard.
Once you've pulled up a video file you can fast forward and reverse through it like anything else that plays movies, change aspect ratios from the remote, choose subtitles and so on, it is one of the closest replications I've seen to playing a DVD using a media streamer.
In short, I was set up and ready to go in easily under five minutes.
Inputs and Outputs
While you re provided with the RCA cables, you also have the options for component, HDMI and digital speakers.
Where this device really shines over other media streamers I've played with is in the USB support. You can totally remove a computer from the equation by plugging in an external hard drive or thumb drive, and once you tell the CinemaTube the format of the external device you can then browse its folders and play any media that you have stored there. That is one reason I have never been big on media streamers is getting the media from your computer inevitably slows it down, and if you want to do stuff on your computer while playing it, you have to suffer through the slow down.
Overall I love the CinemaTube, but it does have a few very minor drawbacks. While it does provide support for downloading torrents without a need for a computer, I didn't get a chance to try it out as it can only download to storage devices formatted in EXT3 or NTFS, most devices are formatted in FAT, so you may have to reformat something to get it to work.
This is a very, very minor complaint, but with all of us running out of places to plug our devices in, the side sitting power source covers two spots on a power strip unless you put it in the end spot. Like I said, minor, but if you're buying this, you probably have a slew of other devices plugged in near it.
Beyond that, I have no real complaints. After brite-View sent me this review unit, I was up and running in no time flat, and as we all know, the true test of any device is if you can set it up without the instructions. Check!
It supports multiple Video formats in VCD 1.0/2.0, SVCD, MPEG1 (DAT/MPG/MPEG), MPEG2 (MPG/MPEG/VOB/ISO/IFO/TS/TP)/M2TS, MPEG4 (MP4/AVI/MOV) , DivX 3/4/5/6, Xvid (AVI/MKV), H.264/AVC (TS/AVI/MKV/MOV)/M2TS, VC-1 (TS/AVI/MKV/WMV)/M2TS, WMV9 (WMV), FLV, Real Video 8/9/10 (RM/RMVB * up to 720p); multiple Audio formats including DTS and Dolby Digital.
The CinemaTube BV-5005HD has a suggested price of $129.99, but you can order it for $99.99 directly from brite-View. There are higher priced versions with extras such as dedicated Wi-Fi dongles.