Some 12 months ago DigitalReviews had the chance to play with the Avedia MP7220, a good but flawed Media Center. With thanks to Avedia, we now have the opportunity to review the new Avedia MP-7222 Dual Tuner DVB-T Full HD Recorder.
On appearance, the Avedia MP-7222 looks much like the MP7220 that I originally reviewed. The physical dimensions have not greatly changed, it retains the feel and size of a thick novel in size and weight. The front fascia now sports a physical power button which was not available on the MP-7220 and all but one connection ports now reside on the back of the unit. Unlike the MP-7220, there is no longer an USB port or a SD/MMC/MS media slot on the front panel.
The back of the unit sports the following: Antenna In, Antenna Out, YPBPR, Composite In, Composite Out, Coaxial, Optical, HDMI. LAN, 2 standard USB and a mini-USB port. A third standard USB port is tucked around the right side of the unit. The quick remove tray for the 3.5" HDD drive does not require screws to separate from the chassis, however the hard disk itself is screwed onto the tray. The MP-7222 now supports a single 3.5" SATA HDD of up to 2 Tb (up from 1.5 Tb on the MP-7220) of storage goodness. 802.11g wireless connectivity is again provided by an external USB adapter.
The remote control has not changed, a full featured affair that is functional. To be honest after using the minimalist iBox Z400W remote for a while, I rather enjoy going back to a full remote just so I can stop getting things wrong!
Just like the MP-7220, the physical connectivity is easy to complete. Antenna cable into the TV/DTV in port, HDMI cable into the HDMI port, wireless USB key and that the physical part is completed. The MP7222 fires up fairly quickly and is ready for action in under a minute from a cold start.
An automatic scan got the DTV tuner part up and running without any dramas. The on-screen keyboard has not changed from the MP-7220. There is still a need to use the CAPS key for capitals and SHIFT for symbols. Shift key did not bring up a temporary capital letter which made it fairly painful for me to input my long wi-fi security key. Unfortunately for me I had to key in the passphrase quite a number of times, but more on that later.
With a 2 Tb hard disk in the MP-7222 it was easy enough to enable the Samba share on the unit and have it available on the network as a drop target.
Very little has changed in the menu of the MP-7222 compared to the MP-7220. The unit is an evolution from the original one that I reviewed with a different chipset for better codec support and in the case of the latest firmware, bugfixes.
The unit defaulted to the browse option on start on which again is a file explorer giving access to files stored on internal HDD, USB or compatible network share. The default option shows all media but it can be filtered by Music, Photos or Movies. Video files are previewed on screen with a small delay.
An additional feature on the MP-7222 is the inclusion of Net Radio. There is a healthy selection of categories but not all of them are populated. The feature is easy enough to navigate as long as you can find a genre with a matching station.
There is a basic file management ability built into the unit but it is a little clunky. For example file operations are limited to a selection of nine (9) files at a time. So batch file organisation on the unit is slow at the best of times.
Unlike the MP-7220, this unit now supports MKV, RM (up to 720p), WMV and H.264. None of these were supported previously by the chipset and it is good to see the feedback has been taken onboard.
The Timer menu is for the recording schedule set up. All I need to do is to choose the channel, date, time, duration, storage media and confirm the scheduling. According to the manual, high quality recording (NTSC 4.945 Mbps, 720x480 at 30 fps or PAL 4.945 Mbps, 720x576 at 25 fps) requires 2 Gb of disk space per hour of recording.
* Main Chip: Realtek 1283;
* Video Input : CVBS
* Video Output : HDMI, CVBS, Y/Pb/Pr (up to 720p/1080i)
* Audio Output : Analog Stereo (L/R), S/PDIF, Coaxial
* USB 2.0 plug: 1 x USB device, 2 x USB host
* Ethernet: Wired 10/100 Mbps, Wireless optional
* DVB-T Tuner: support digital MPEG4, H.264 DVB-T signal; support 6 Mhz, 7 Mhz, 8 Mhz channel DVB-T signal; support Electronic Program Guide function (EPG)l support TV program TTX function
* Storage format: built-in 3.5" SATA HDD (20 Gb - 2 Tb); FAT, FAT32, NTFS, EXT3 partial; support external SD/MMC/MS card; support USB storage
* Voltage: power adapter input: 100 - 240V, AC 50/60 Hz; output: 12V/3A
* Dimensions: 190 x 173 x 65 mm (HxDxW)
* Language: English, Traditional Chinese, Japanese, Spanish, French, German, Italian, Korean, Dutch, Russian, Simplified Chinese
* AVI / MKV / TS / TP / TRP / M2TS / MPG / MP4 / MOV / M4V / VOB / ISO / IFO / DAT / WMV / ASF /RM / RMVB / FLV, resolution up to 720p/1080i/1080p
* MP3 / OGG / WMA / WAV / AAC / FLAC
* HD JPEG / BMP / GIF / TIF / PNG
* Video Codecs: MPEG-1, HD MPEG-2, HD MPEG-4 SP/ASP/AVC (H.264), WMV9 (VC-1), RealNetworks (RM/RMVB) 8/9/10 up to 720p
*Audio Codecs: MP2/3, OGG Vorbis, WMA (DRM and Advanced Profile not supported), PCM, LPCM, MS-ADPCM, LC-AAC, HE-AAC, COOK, RA-Lossless
* Subtitles: SRT, SMI, SSA, ASS, IDX/SUB, SUB
With my extended play of the MP-7222, there were two issues which constantly bothered me. The first is an annoyance, the second had me borrowing my 5 month old son's nappies.
For some reason, when the unit has been power cycled it will forget to reenable the Samba file share, even if the option is shown as enabled in the menu. I had to disable it and reenable it for it to work. This gets a bit annoying after my wife turns it off on me and I have to turn the unit on, the TV and the home theatre so that I can reenable the file sharing.
The second issue happened twice so far. The unit mysteriously decided to throw a fit and refused to show any files. Interestingly enough the high level directory structure was displayed, but absolutely no files were displayed. Even a reboot did not fix it. My wife reported the issue the first time right when she was trying to play some music to settle our son, but when I turned the system back on later that day it was working normally. The second time I saw it spat an I/O error and I had to connect the device to a computer to confirm all the data was still intact and reboot the unit for it to work again.
On the bright side, an updated firmware released in January 2011 seems to have addressed both of these issues.
For some reason the wireless dongle which is 802.11 b/g/n compatible simply would not work on my wireless network. I spent quite a bit of time troubleshooting the issue and eventually gave up. In the end I could not determine whether the fault lies with the driver in the MP-7222, or the D-Link wireless access point that I use. The AP has been flawless for the 18 months or so that I have been using it. As far as I can determine, there is an issue with the handshake which leads to the dongle being rejected.
Also as a result of trying to get the wireless dongle to work, it somehow killed the wired network part of the unit. No amounts of reboots, factory reset, re-entering of the configuration (which is retained through the factory reset incidentally) and complete restart of my entire network would fix the problem. Interestingly enough when I pulled every cable off the back of the device and reconnected from scratch, the device would respond on the network but would fail to detect the correct resolution for the TV. In the end the issue was fixed by manually assigning a different IP, restart, assign the designated IP I wanted it to have, restart, restart, restart. Annoying but it did finally work.
Avedia kindly offered to replace the wireless dongle but at the time of publishing this review, I have yet to get it to work on my network.
Despite the issues I encountered, the Avedia MP-7222 Dual Tuner DVB-T Full HD Recorder is actually a great unit to have. The recent firmware upgrade fixed the two most pressing issues that I had and I will slap myself on the wrist before playing with the wireless dongle again.
With the Realtek 1283 chipset powering the unit, the supported formats has substantially increased and in combination with the tuner makes it a worthwhile purchase. To be honest, I have recommended it to a number of friends even as I was testing for this review.
The Avedia MP-7222 DVB-T Media Center is available here (without hard disk) for the price of AUD$289.95 with a 2 Tb HDD. The unit is also available in 500 Gb, 1 Tb and 1.5 Tb variants. There is a back order for units at the moment and until stock arrives around 8 March 2011, they are throwing in a wireless dongle for free (usually $39).