The Moxi Mate is a media extender for use with Moxi HD DVRs, allowing you to view live and recorded TV without the need for additional cable boxes or service. It also gives you access to media stored on networked PCs and DLNA-enabled network-attached storage devices as well as Web services such as Netflix, Amazon on Demand, and Hulu. Click through to see photos of the Mate's interface and media features.
The Moxi remote, which is the same for the Mate and DVRs, is OK, but it could definitely use some tweaking. For example, the Moxi button that brings you to the top-level menu is small and stuck between the navigation pad and media controls. Then there are all the extra little buttons that are just confusing until you become familiar with what they do. And though the remote can be programmed to control TV power and volume/mute, there are no buttons for changing inputs or aspect ratio.
The Moxi remote does have a 30-second skip, so you can quickly jump through commercials or it can be set to skip in 3-, 5-, or 15-minute increments. The Mate's settings menu also includes parental controls, network diagnostics to check your Internet connection, and direct access to software updates.
The key benefit to the Mate is its capability to use the available tuners in a Moxi HD DVR. For example, if you have a three-tuner DVR that's recording two programs, the Mate can take over the third tuner and use it to watch live TV by streaming it over your network. (Both the DVR and Mate must have a wired Ethernet Internet connection to operate smoothly. MoCA adapters can be used as well.)
Unlike the grid-style electronic programming guide (EPG) found on most DVRs, Moxi uses a more vertical, split-screen format: channels on the left side, current and upcoming programs on the right. Unfortunately, though you can view anything that's currently playing and see what's on later, you can't schedule recordings through the Mate.
Along with live TV, the Mate can play recorded programs stored on your DVR. Just select the Recorded TV option from the menu and you get a list of recordings organized alphabetically, with multiple episodes of shows grouped together.
The Mate's Media Link menu lets you enjoy content on your networked PCs and DLNA media servers such as those running Windows Media Connect, PlayOn Digital Media Server, TVersity Media Server, and TwonkyMedia Manager. TwonkyMedia is compatible with Macs.
The Media Link menu is also where you can connect with MediaMall's PlayOn software. Using the PlayOn software (which needs to run on a networked PC), the Moxi can access a variety of online video sources, including Hulu (free), Netflix (subscription), and Amazon (pay-per-view). The Mate comes with a one-year subscription for the software.
Again, the Mate has DLNA support (Digital Living Network Alliance) for accessing media on supported network-attached storage. We tested it using a Western Digital ShareSpace, which runs Twonky Media Server; it was recognized instantly and we were able to listen to music and view photos and videos stored on its drives.
The Moxi comes with free access to an Internet radio service called FineTune. It's, well, free. If you want better options, sign up for a paid Rhapsody account and get all-you-can-eat music. Navigating is a little sluggish, but the availability is a plus.
However, should something come across on the SuperTicker that you want to know more about, you can hit OK on the remote and you'll be able to get more information on the topic. The story will pop up and your programming will appear in an inset box in the upper right of the screen.
And if that's not enough, the device's MoxiNet option gives you a rudimentary Web browser. You can go online to your moxi.com account and add up to 10 of your own favorite sites, too. Although interesting to have, the experience isn't great. It's basically for when you're bored with what's on TV and don't have access to a computer.