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Traxdata USB media player: The 90s called, they want their media player back

Media streamers are great, but in order to be impressive in 2009, they really need to support HD video and have some sort of networking ability -- regrettably, the Traxdata does neither

Things that can play Xvid and DivX on your TV are hardly new. DVD players have been doing this for some time, as have media streamers and some TVs even have the ability built in. We can't imagine it will be long before you can fire up some downloaded video on your washing machine. So the Traxdata USB media player is hardly going to win innovation of the century.

The low-cost device comes with HDMI out, as well as component and composite video. The latter connections are achieved with a little breakout cable, because space on the back of the unit is in short supply. You also get a digital coaxial audio output, for feeding sound to an AV receiver in its digital form. Most importantly of all, you'll find a USB 2.0 socket, which is how you get video or other media into this little box.

The whole thing is pretty basic. HDMI resolution is limited to 1080i, but that's not much of a problem, because the player can't cope with HD video, decoding files with a maximum resolution of 720x576 pixels (576p). Video codec support includes MPEG-1, 2 and 4, while audio playback covers only the basics of MP3 and WAV.

The menus are also pretty basic and really quite ugly. This certainly isn't a player that's come from the same design ethos as Apple's products. We tested MP3s, a video encoded using Xvid and looked at some photos. Video quality was poor, to be honest. Music sounded fine, but photos looked pretty terrible. All in all, we aren't convinced this is the sort of product you should be spending money on.

The Traxdata USB media player costs about £60. Honestly, we wanted to like it, but it's overpriced for such a basic feature set. For a credible alternative, take a look at the Western Digital HD media player, which does much more, for just a £20 premium.