If you've read our review of the DVICO TViX 5130 PVR, you'll recall how impressed we were with its unique beer barrel shape; if nothing else it's at least different. In design terms, however, the 4130SH is the reverse; it's not different at all from many other players, coming in a short squat box that sits somewhere between most consumer NAS devices and the Apple TV. On the plus side, this makes it far more compatible with most home A/V cabinets, where the 5130 wasn't.
One design factor that they both share is the remote control, which is an intelligently laid out but somewhat uninspiring black number. While it's not tough to use for basic controls, like the 5130, it's rather slow to respond, and the sheer number of button options means you're unlikely to use it intuitively, rather than checking the buttons each time.
The 4130SH is a high definition PVR with a single TV tuner. This means you can't schedule one recording and watch another channel, and while it does use the freely available EPG information, the menu setup for doing things like scheduling recordings is, in a word, rather clumsy.
Alongside its PVR duties, it will also act as a home media hub via either wired or wireless networking (more on this later), or via an installed SATA hard drive or external USB storage device. It's worth noting that while the 5130SH comes in a consumer-friendly version that includes an installed drive, there's no such option with the 4130SH. If you want a drive in this PVR, you're going to have to pay for and install it yourself.
The 4130 comes with connection options for everything from composite to HDMI, along with a 10/100 ethernet port. It is possible to wirelessly enable the 4130SH via one of the unit's two host USB ports, although you'll need to check DVICO's Web site to ensure you're using a compatible model.
The 4130SH's file support is, in a word, excellent. If there's a digital file format you're interested in, chances are the 4130SH supports it straight out of the box. To give you a idea, the list of currently supported video formats includes avi, .wmv, .mpg, .iso .vob, .ifo, .mp4, .asf, .tp, .trp, .ts, .m2ts, and .mov(H.264). Codec support includes wmv and DivX, along with some slightly more esoteric (but still useful) formats such as MKV, FLAC and OGG.
The 4130SH might not look a whole lot like its more expensive brother, but it certainly behaves in a virtually identical fashion. This is an approach that has its ups and downs. We certainly loved the quality of video playback (1080p video is supported, as long as your display will cope), and the huge range of file formats that the 4130 will run is great if you're a video download junkie. The unit's small size makes it easy to incorporate into most home A/V setups, while also making it somewhat portable.
On the minus side, the manual is a mess, and does a very poor job of explaining how to network the 4130SH properly. We knew what we were doing, and still had to fiddle around with poorly labelled controls to get the 4130SH onto our network properly. Even once that's done you're solidly limited by the fact that the 4130SH will search out only one specifically named folder on your PC to stream from; many other players are able to search throughout a PC or NAS drive folder structure.
Ultimately the 4130SH is a cheaper alternative to the 5130SH, but most of the same caveats apply. It's a good player if you're after lots of file compatibility and don't mind quite a bit of tinkering -- including installing the hard drive yourself, and making your way through the rather Byzantine maze that is properly networking the unit.