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FIA On3 (80GB) review: FIA On3 (80GB)

FIA On3 (80GB)

Nathaniel Wilkins
2 min read
The $449 FIA On3 Digital Media Player and Library connects to your home theater and plays video, audio, and image files from its 80GB hard drive. It can't stream content from networked PCs or the Internet, however, and it lacks the features of competing device types such as Media Center PCs and digital video recorders.
Capable of 480p and 1080i HDTV output, the On3 supports a wide array of formats, including AVI, DivX 5.1, QuickTime MOV, MPEG-1, MPEG-2, MPEG-4, RMP4, DivX, and XivD video files; GIF, JPEG, and PNG image files; and AAC, MP3, OGG, WAV, and WMA audio files. Configuring the device is easy, and ports abound for connecting it to your home theater, but populating it with files is a hassle. We installed FIA's POPassist player-management software, connected the On3 to our Ethernet router, and copied files from our PC via Windows Explorer. But then we had to tote it over and connect it to our A/V receiver and television. You'll repeat that inelegant routine to add more files. Alternately, you could add a wireless bridge to the unit, making it interoperable with your Wi-Fi network. Once so configured, it could also stream files to FIA's 802.11-enabled On3-xr satellite models, allowing you to enjoy the media in other rooms of the house.
Users navigate via TV-based menus and an included remote. The device has evident limitations: it doesn't support audio playlists; nor does it support ID3 tags, so you can't find music by classifications such as genre and album; worst of all, you can't browse media lists while playback is active.
Our test files played smoothly and showed excellent visual clarity. Audio sounded clean, even through the analog outputs, though we occasionally had to reboot video files and photo slide shows that launched with distorted sound.
Despite decent performance and some impressive features, the FIA On3 Digital Media Player and Library is ultimately hobbled by a "closed garden" approach to home media networking. Plenty of other, more affordable products do a better job.