Wyplayer: Freeview PVR and a fully featured media streamer
As much as we love the Popcorn Hour, there's a new kid on the block who's keen to prove he's got the right stuff. Is this upstart hanging tough, or will we be loving the Popcorn Hour forever?
Our favourite thing we plug into our TV has to be the Popcorn Hour. Nothing comes close to offering the high-quality media streaming and general awesomeness that we've come to adore from that brilliant little box. There's a new device in town, however -- it's called the Wyplayer and it thinks it can offer more than pretty much anything else on the market.
For a start, it's got a built in DVB-T receiver, which means you can use it to watch Freeview TV channels. If you opt for the version with a built-in hard drive, you can even record shows directly to disk. And because there are two tuners, you can record one channel while watching another -- hardware power prevents recording two channels at once, sadly.
But as well as the traditional PVR functionality, you also get all of the media-streaming chops of a Popcorn Hour. MKV container support is included, and you can watch video in many formats, right up to 1080p. Obviously photos and music are both playable too -- with no limit on JPG file size and some nifty music features.
The Wyplayer also has some slightly more advanced photo and MP3 playback skills -- something we've always found to be the weakest part of the Popcorn Hour and other competitors. It's even possible to make your own playlists on the fly, and the innovative remote allows you to easily re-order them on the device. The really cool extra here is that you can copy music and playlists to a USB stick or MP3 player by simply pressing a couple of buttons. Music can even be sourced from the network, and the whole process is totally seamless.
As with the Popcorn Hour, you don't have to buy the model that comes with a hard drive built-in. There's a simple-to-use caddy that fits into the bottom side of the unit. Fitting your own disk should take no more than 10 minutes, and the Wyplayer will auto-format it for use the first time you boot up.
Here's the bad news: the Wyplayer isn't cheap. The version without a built-in hard drive costs about £300. 500GB and 750GB models are available for about £410 and £450 respectively. Additionally, there's a 1TB model too, which costs a slightly unpalatable £490. We'll let you decide if this new device is worth the money, but we'll have a full review soon to help you.
Because Wyplayer has built-in digital terrestrial tuners it also has corresponding aerial input and outputs. We have to say, we're most excited about the Freeview-recording options on Wyplayer -- it's incredibly rare to find a media streamer that does both.
Usual inputs and outputs are present and correct. HDMI is the main event here, but obviously Ethernet is crucial too.
A pair of USB sockets on the back and a third on the front also seems really fair.
You'll also notice you can use this device in USB Target mode, to copy video and other material to its internal hard drive.