Techno Dabbler

Trying out new technology.

Sunday

23

April 2006

The MediaGate MG-35

by Alexandre Denault

I have rather large collection of home videos encoded in Xvid format. VHS being an unreliable media, I digitally converted my home video librarie to this popular computer format. About a year ago, I started looking around for a solution that would allow me to view my Xvid videos on my TV.

Here were my prerequisites:

  • Must be able to play Xvid videos (bare minimum).
  • Must be able to stream videos from my server (and none of those proprietary solutions like MS Media center.
  • Must be able to play video from a harddisk (when I want to carry it around).
  • The interface should be easy to use.

Since i didn’t feel like burning DVD’s for everything I had, an Xvid DVD Player was out of the question. A modified Xbox could have been a nice solution, but the interface on those things are not always easy. I used a dedicated PC for a while, but constantly upgrading the PC (software update, anti-virus, codec, etc) was not fun. What I needed was a dedicated device.

I was suprised to learn that such a device existed. In fact, the Korean market was flooded with such devices. However, the trick is finding one available in Canada. When I last ordered a piece of hardware from the US, I had to pay 70 CDN of duty fees in addition to the 90 CDN of tax. Ouch! However, I was lucky. I could order the MediaGate MG-35 from NCIX. Although they had serious problems acquiring the items (kinda ironic given it was marked in stock), but I eventually received it.

I’ve been using my MediaGate MG-35 for over 4 months now and I’m pretty satisfied with it. It plays 95% of my Xvids with no problem. Video and audio quality is excellent. I event noticed that the machines does perfect 6 channels sound output when my Xvid supports them. However, the menu interface is very basic and lacks customization.

The construction of the machine itself is a bit flimsy. On two occasion, one of the component connector popped out when I unplugged the cable. This was not much of problem since I was able to pop the connector back in. The quality of the remote control is also less then impressive. However, it get’s the job done.

Would I recommend the MediaGate MG-35? For now, yes, mostly because I don’t know a similar product that does the same thing. It does it job and it does it well. However, the next Xvid player I buy will not be a MediaGate. I might try my luck with the TVIX instead.

For Linux users:

When streaming videos of a different machines, you must set up an anymous share for your videos. Finding the correct Samba settings for Linux is a bit trick. Here are the settings I used.

[global] ... obey pam restrictions = yes
workgroup = home
encrypt passwords = true
guest account = guest
null passwords = yes

[aMedia] invalid users = root
guest ok = yes
public = yes
path = /home/video
writeable = no

Alexandre Denault
Alexandre Denault

Veteran software developer and holds a PhD in Computer Science. Avid computer enthusiast (geek) who has been dabbling with technology ever since his Dad brought home an 8086 computer.

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