Quick product review :: Cyclone Micro Media Player

Ok, so this may not be a Linux based product, but I’m pretty sure (all things considered) it has to be … and that aside, anyone interested in Linux is likely to be vaguely interested in this … IMHO … :slight_smile: … and thanks to Mark for pointing me at it in the first place.

In really simple terms, plug the player into your telly, then plug a USB key with your MP4 movies on it into the player and hey presto, you don’t need your DVD player any more. Even better (!) spend £60 on an external 1TB USB drive, copy all your movies onto it, then plug it into the player and you have your own video on demand solution.

“Yeah, but I can do that with my Linux machine!”

You can, however firstly you’re going to want a PC with an HDMI output on it - something you may not have and something that’s not always that cheap. Secondly you’re going to want some software to index and play your movies with a living-room friendly interface … wireless keyboard / mouse etc … again not necessarily that straightforward or cheap. “Then” you’re likely to have fun getting your Linux/X config to be happy with your big telly’s HDMI connection, again not something that’s necessarily that easy, especially if your screen is a few years old.

How long did it take me to get the media player plugged in and running in 1080p mode.
Approx: 1m, 30s.

It comes as a really small box, remote control (same size), composite video cable and a credit card CD with the manual on it.

Cost: £29.99 (including VAT)
I bought here (Laptops, Gaming PCs, 4K Monitors, Graphics Cards | Ebuyer.com) and paid an extra £5 for a HDMI<->HDMI cable.

How is playback … Ok, I’m running this on a 42" Sony so it’s having to upscale the graphics a fair bit … if one were to play (I’m being a little careful re; my wording here) a video downloaded from youtube in HD mode (basically normal TV resolution, 640x480 ish) then playback would look for all the world like you were watching Sky. If you start messing around with low res stuff (350x250) then it starts go get a little grainy (!) however it’s actually way more watchable than on a 19" monitor, despite the size scale-up!

And the bonus - they throw in an SD card slot, not tried this yet but I’ve just ordered a 16Gb card so I’ll see what it’s like shortly.

And the fine print - this device supports 1080p, but only for pictures, best playback resolution is 720p (!) , I’d have to guess this is a CPU power limitation, I’ve not opened the box but there has to be a limit to what you can get into a box that size in terms of CPU and cooling. For that matter, the unit’s been on for a few hours and while your eggs are safe, I wouldn’t stand my milk on it for too long … :slight_smile:

Piccies attaches;

a. The box it comes in
b. Plugged into my screen
c. The remote control with a 360 controller for scale
d. The extreme close-up

It’s no Rolls-Royce, but for the price it does seem to do a rather respectable job … might be able to provide further feedback once I get a larger USB device plugged into it …

Ok, one quick point for anyone obtaining one of these … the player is designed to play files in ISO format, so any MPG that’s been encoded such that it’s ready to be burnt to a CD is fine … “raw” MPG’s won’t play - just be aware (!)

If this sounds hard, here’s the very quick howto;

[ol]- Obtain “Avidemux” via “apt-get” or “rpm” (depending on your system)

  • File → Open the mpg you want to use
  • Auto->DVD (watch the “Video/Audio/Format” entries on the left change)
  • File->Add to Job List
  • Enter a job name (anything) and use “Browse” to select an output file / location
  • File->Show Job list
  • Select your job and click “Run Job” (note, this may “minimuse” when running)[/ol]

When it finishes, you have an MPG in DVD format which will either burn to a CD, or play correctly on a Player.

What about Flash Video?

The player can’t handle .flv’s and neither can Avidemux when it comes to the proper conversion, so try the following command line;

ffmpeg -i <input flash .flv> -target ntsc-dvd -s <output mpeg .mpg>

For example;

ffmpeg -i youtube.flv -target ntsc-dvd -s 640x480 to-player.mpg

Note; your choice of resolution will determine the quality and size of the final file … I’d recommend using the input resolution as the output resolution (i.e. no size change) , you’ll notice when you run ffmpeg it will list the input resolution, so run it once to see what resolution your .flv is, kill it with Ctrl-C, then run it again with a more accurate setting for -s.

It may not support HD video, but the Cyclone Micro has an HDMI output. This supports all the usual HD resolutions, up to and including 1080p. Video is automatically upscaled to the output resolution, although the results were no more impressive than our test TV could manage on its own, with no effort made to remove compression artefacts. You can fast-forward and rewind videos at a respectable 20x speed, though

Mmm, that confused me at first, the device does have an HDMI link, indeed that’s the recommended connection. It also supports 1080p in terms of a raw connection, however when it comes to video playback, it’ll only do 720p … I did wonder ‘why’ it has a 1080p connection mode if it doesn’t support it for video playback, apparently it’s because it has an images mode for your still photo’s which does work in 1080p mode.

Or at least that’s what my docs said when I stopped to read the fine-print.

Had mine a little while now and use it regularly - works a treat every time! :smiley: