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GalaXy TVistoU2F GalaXy TVistoU2F HDD Enclosure: An MPEG4 Capable Hard Drive Enclosure/Portable Multimedia Player without the need for a PC for playback.
Date: August 29, 2007
Manufacturer:
Written By: Brook Moore
Price:

Installation

The first thing we need to do (OK second, first was finding an IDE drive) is install the Hard Drive. While I have built a few External USB Hard Drive kits, none were quite like this. The drive bay does not slide out, you actually pull apart the case and install the hard drive on some feet, using 3 screws on one side. Granted, most people are not going to bounce around this unit, I would still like to see a little more support here.

Notice the crimp in the IDE cable pictured above, when taking that picture I didn't realize that would be an issue, it was. I had to take the unit apart and straighten that kink out for the unit to work properly. Take heed when installing (and they do mention it in the manual) to make sure things are crisp and neat.

Now that the Hard Drive is installed, and the unit is put back together, we must now format the hard drive... First thing to do is to either connect the device via USB or Firewire. Oh my, if this is an embedded Linux distribution and we have a 500GB hard drive, (that of course we want to use from a windows machine) which file system can we format the TVisto with? Windows won't format Ext2 (without an addon program) and Fat32 is not 500GB aware (you can not have partitions according to the documentation). The TVisto actually supports NTFS as well as HFS+ (for those Mac users amongst us). It supports NTFS rather well in fact (I have no means to test HFS+), as I have had issues with Vista and the way it formats NTFS with some earlier Linux Distributions, but this one worked out of the box.

Now that our hard drive is formatted properly, we need to align the folders for TVisto to see what information we have stored. You start by creating the root directories for each multimedia format:

Firmware / Movies / Music / Pictures

Now that we have a directory structure TVisto can understand, I will let you know that from there, you can set your directories as you see fit, it is only the root directories that TVisto cares about.

Next Steps

The first thing you want to do after getting your hard drive sorted out (as well as a few movies or music or photos on the hard drive) is to download the latest firmware from so that you can be sure to have all of the latest supported file types. Once you follow the directions for updating the firmware (which is basically an OS update), and follow them closely, you will be ready to enjoy the multimedia delivery.

Interface

The user interface on the Television is fairly straight forward. You can see that each multimedia application has its own selection and more then likely is matched to the root folder structure we built earlier.

Setting up the Unit is straight forward as well, hrmmm, I would hope it is anyway :)

Performance

Once again, I do not have the YPbPr cable required to do 1080i, 720p or even 480p, therefore I am currently stuck doing S-Video which is a measly 480i. That being said, the experience was not without a sense of awe that I just copied that DivX cut I made from my DV-Tape camcorder video to this device, and it is now displaying it on my television screen. Once I got then sense of that, I decided to take my Matrix DVD and ISO it up; unfortunately 480p it is not, so a DVD was somewhat of a disappointment but none the less cool.

While I did not test music to a great extent, it did work fine using OGG and MP3 format, I used the SPDIF feed to my Amplifier, therefore a pure digital feed, and the playback was as expected, flawless without a missed beat... While the documentation mentions a maximum bit rate of 128kbps, I did not notice a limit to which I got playback, as my 256kbps MP3 and OGG files played as well as the 128kbps files did.

Pictures are of the JPEG variety, and can be as great as 8mb per image. Granted the images are painted on a screen that is 640x480 (using the S-Video) and therefore might look grainy compared to a printed out version or even on your computer monitor that has a much higher resolution and a smaller screen.

The socket on the back of the TVisto 3500 looks much like that of an HDMI, I attempted (because this is what we do) to attach a HDMI-->DVI adapter on the TVisto 3500, while I was able to physically connect the adapter up, I was unable to produce Video. I unfortunately do not have access to a device that has HDMI inputs, therefore I can only gather that if the HDMI-->DVI adapter did not work, neither would the HDMI-->HDMI.

Edit – We contacted Geeks.com to inquire about this apparently analogue HDMI port and they quickly got a clarification for us.

The TVisto multimedia unit uses a proprietary pin-out for an HDMI type connector (it is NOT an HDMI output however as HDMI)... The SCART, VGA and Component cables are not included with the kit. The ad was changed to make this point clearer. We currently do not offer any of these cables, though they can be purchased from other resellers.

Final Words

While HTPC is the rage, those of us with space limitations, as well as budget ones find several shortcomings to that particular solution. Then we have the Media Center solutions brought to us by the likes of D-Link and Netgear, where they use your OS and storage and their bandwidth to display multimedia on your TV, these have been hit or miss on several things, bandwidth and source system performance being dominant. Now comes with an embedded Linux solution that could just fill that void. The does have its drawbacks, apparently you don't get HD out of the box, you have to find it, you have to put your own Hard Drive in it and set it up, you have to bring the unit to your PC to upload the files; these are things that must be considered. Of course on the flipside, not having to pay for a hard drive, keeps the costs lower and allows you to dictate the capacity; you may even have a drive laying around that you won't need to pay extra for. The footprint, the ability to upgrade the image and capacity, among many other advantages are what makes it the unit in the middle, the unit aiming after the mainstream geek in all of us that doesn't have the budget (or we are married) that the other solutions call for. That alone should and probably will, make the the required Home Theater Scenario.

But I really would like to see the correct YPbPr cable included in the package. This would add to the value immensely. Fair enough, not everyone has a High Definition TV, but just think about the market this product is aimed at/will be sold to; . HD will certainly benefit you when viewing the family photo album if nothing else. and have already taken steps to make it clear that the HDMI alike connector is not an HDMI connector in fact but a proprietary wired port so do bear that in mind if you're the kind of person who just looks at the pictures. Up to 1TB of space in a portable Multimedia Player should give you plenty of media to view/listen to. Speaking of which, the supports all the major formats you might need as well. And you won't need to get up out of your seat to do it either since a remote is included. Overall a nicely functioning device with only a single easily corrected (by end user) negative that won't effect everyone anyway.

at time of writing, which is pretty good value for what you get.

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