Uebo M200 Media Player
We've recently taken looks at both the Seagate Free Agent GoFlex TV and Western Digital TV Live Plus streaming media players. While we thought both deserved similar ratings in terms of functionality, each player boasted an exclusive feature or two. The GoFlex offered a slot for Seagate hard drives, while the TV Live Plus went heavy on Internet-based amenities.
Priced competitively at $130, the Uebo M200 Media Player offers a lot of the same bells and whistles as the two products mentioned above, but we think the M200 might serve do-it-yourselfers even better.
First thing we noticed unboxing the M200 was its size. It's by no means a burden to your home theater setup; it's just a bit bulkier and heavier than other products in the same category. Measuring in at 2.5 inches tall by 9 inches wide by 6.5 inches deep, the box should have no problem fitting on a shelf. Its black-and-white exterior is certainly unique for products of its ilk, but it shouldn't clash with the bevy of electronics it will reside beside. As for its size, the trade-off here is the ability to bring your own internal hard drive and the large amount of connectivity you get around back, though it's not leaps and bounds beyond the competition. Instead of just an optical audio connection, the M200 offers digital coaxial as well.
All the other usual suspects are here, too, HDMI, component, and composite out is supported, along with wired and wireless Internet connections (more on Wi-Fi later). The right side of the device supports SD/MS/MMC memory cards as well as USB slots; two host ports for external drives, thumb drives and the like, and one USB device slot for connection with a desktop or laptop connection. We should note that a USB-A to B cord is required for a USB device connection.
The M200's interface is simplistic, smooth, and easy to navigate. There's the option to browse via media type, by all, or by drive. Sure, the UI has its quirks, but it's nothing a few days behind the wheel won't cure. Text input remains a major issue with these types of devices, so it's tough to just knock one and not the other.
In terms of playback compatibility, the M200 had no problems with pretty much any file type it claimed support with. Supported video file types include AVI, MKV, TS, TP, TRP, M2TS, MPG, MP4, MOV, M4V, VOB, ISO, IFO, DAT, WMV, ASF, RM, RMBV, and FLV flash files. Audio support includes MP3, OGG, WMA, WAV, ACC, and FLAC files. These can be read and played off external drives and devices or copied directly to an optional Internet drive that must be installed manually.
In addition to basic media browsing, the M200 offers plenty of Internet-based functionality, including YouTube, Picasa, and Flickr support as well as Internet radio, and RSS feeds. There's also compatibility with Play-On media service (which requires a subscription) that opens up the door to ESPN, Hulu, and Netflix on-demand content.
The included remote control is somewhat overloaded and clumsy. We also were very confused by the center button and its arrow icon. You see, on the screen, this icon means cancel, but its geographic location on the remote screams "OK button." It might take some getting used to; we just found it to be an odd situation.
Like most of the same products in this category, the M200 can also access devices on the same network and then stream them to your television. If you're planning on using the M200 with a wireless connection, you'll have to spring for the optional wireless USB dongle which ultimately monopolizes one of the three ports. We're still believers in wired connections for products like these and only recommend going wireless if it's an absolute necessity.
The M200 can also act conversely, making itself the server. In addition, the device comes loaded with a Web-based interface easily accessible from any browser on a home network.
The M200 also offers something unique in terms of Internet functionality. The Uebo is one of the first products with a built-in BitTorrent client. However, the use of it relies solely on having an internal hard drive installed. Unfortunately, it does not seem that you can load a torrent file onto a thumb drive and download from that. You'll need to load the torrent file on the internal drive, and only then can you actually download.
While it's certainly an unexpected-yet-welcome feature, we really wish it was accessible through other connected devices (like an external mass-storage hard drive). If you don't plan on purchasing an internal 3.5-inch SATA drive, this feature is useless.
We should also note that during our review we updated the system's firmware to the most current state--the version with which it will ship to stores. While this wasn't the smoothest of operations, the whole thing took only 10 minutes. We wished the M200 were a little more transparent with the update process, but should you be involved in such an upgrade, we definitely recommend backing up any vital information.
When comparing directly to the Seagate Free Agent GoFlex TV or Western Digital TV Live Plus, we'd recommend the M200 to the DIY crowd; especially when taking into consideration the amount of customization that's possible with a user-installed 3.5-inch SATA drive. If that type of setup doesn't sound like something you'd be interested in, the comparatively priced Western Digital and Seagate products are a bit more commercialized and less rough around the edges.