Media Streamers and Hubs Guide
Open the Media Gateway!
Open the Media Gateway!
With Internet fast taking over traditional over-the-counter means of acquiring multimedia content, demand for convergent devices packing network storage and multimedia playback functions are predictably on the rise as well. Able to store and playback hundreds of movies and thousands of songs in pristine digital audio and video formats, products such as the Mediagate MG-35 are simply too attractive to ignore.
No small fry
While the whole Mediagate MG-35 unit is no bigger than a small form factor PC, there’s plenty within its sleek white and black housing to warrant strong interests, even if you had never considered buying one for your home. Out of the box, the set of media buttons located on the front should provide a clear indication of its multimedia intentions, but if that’s not enough to convince you then a quick glance at the rear panel should squash any doubt you might have about its primary function to provide digital entertainment. All major audio and video ports are onboard but HDMI is surprisingly nowhere to be found.
The base configuration of the MG-35 doesn’t come with a hard drive for obvious price reason, but that’s hardly a problem given the unit is able to playback content off your PC through its onboard USB and RJ-45 Ethernet ports. However, with prices of hard drives at an all-time low, there’s no reason why you shouldn’t install a hard drive (up to 500GB capacity) to gain maximum performance out of the MG-35.
Another compelling reason why you should install a hard drive apart from the convenience of having a multimedia vault wherever you go is its NDAS (Network Direct Attached Storage) capability. When plugged into a home or office network through the onboard RJ-45 Ethernet jack, the MG-35 will instantly provide a low-cost network external storage solution in addition to its multimedia playback property – though some knowledge of basic networking and tinkering are needed before the MG-35 can be integrated into your home/office network as a storage module.
Once configured, the MG-35 is as easy to use as your run-of-the-mill DVD player except content may originate from either the data port (streamed via USB or Ethernet) or internal hard drive (if installed). Video output resolution can scale up to 1080i, making it instantly compatible with all high definition flat panel displays. But what’s really good about the MG-35 is its extensive format support. Basically, all types of multimedia files that are commonly available on the Internet are supported by the MG-35 and playback was found to be smooth with no lag even when content was streamed from a networked computer.
Also, it’s comforting to note that the Mediagate has provisioned the MG-35 for firmware upgradeability via its website as and when issues arise as the product matures. Of course, no modern media device is complete without a remote control. While the size is admittedly small, each button is labeled and well laid-out, which is all well and good where navigation and general usage are concerned. Advanced adjustments like color depth, luminosity, brightness and volume can all be remotely adjusted as well.
With its small form factor, built-in NDAS technology, firmware upgradeability and extensive media support, the Mediagate MG-35 does have quite a lot swinging in its favor. Although the somewhat tricky network configuration is likely going to be a stumbling block for many, there is enough quality about the MG-35 to justify you putting in some time to get it running gloriously, which is not much to ask really.