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PixelMagic HD MediaBox MB-100
Happy 8th Year Anniversary to HW1
SlowHub Access Speed
Push Mail != Blackberry
New Dopod 818 and Dopod 900 ROMs
More Fun with Dopod and Windows Mobile 2005
ActiveSync and Windows Mobile 2005 - Two steps back...

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 Monday May 15, 2006

PixelMagic HD MediaBox MB-100
14:17 PM - bktoh
I wish I still have time to write more detailed reviews. But just started new job so been kinda occuppied.

First, a bit of background.

I was using an *ahem* XBox to double up as a media center for my home theater. Basically, with a 120GB HDD, it worked pretty well as a player of recorded TV shows and partnered well with my projector (supporting 1080i and 720p modes)

Thing was, I was using a Maxtor hard drive, and I am not sure if it is symptomatic of these drives but I had a lot of Maxtor drives of around this vintage die on me within pretty much the same time window.

So then I used parts of an old PC to built an HTPC (details of which can be found in an earlier rant/post I made earlier).

Thing is, the PC is pretty noisy and when I found out about the HD MediaBox, it seemed exactly like what I was looking for.


What really attracted me was the 1080p output over HDMI and I have been really itching to try the HDMI connection of my Amoi 37" LCDTV with 1920x1080 resolution that has been touting 1080p HDMI input compatibility.

So I succumbed and tested. Can confirm it works! Can't wait to use the LCDTV with BluRay and HD-DVD when they finally appear.

Anyway back to the MB100. I wanted a less flaky and simpler to use interface. The HTPC worked well for the most part but with VLC for HD files, I often had to go into menus (using a wireless keyboard) to adjust settings for playback.

Personally, I can only give a qualified (not full hearted) recommendation for the MB100.

If you are willing to use the MB100 primarily as HDD based media player, then no questions. You will love it.

Most of the .ts .wmv(hd) 1080i and 720p hidef files I threw at it worked fine.

I think I only encountered TWO problematic files. Not a bad track record in the scheme of things (considering how many files I threw at it).

One was a hidef .avi file (which plays on my HTPC) which refused to play at all (not sure of encoding). The other was an odd DIVX/xVID .avi encoded with 5.1 that gave no audio (again played back in 5.1 in PC)

Everything else is just great.

Over the network, things tend to get a little less than perfect. My wife never noticed the slightly less than smooth playback but I did. Some of the fwd/rew controls are also a bit retarded and you can't do time searches.

More importantly, it needs a really good network connection. My old SMC wireless G router with SMC wireless G bridge was pretty decent. But when I switched to Singnet, the bundled 2wire wireless modem/router was just not strong enough. Worse, the 2wire didn't support MAC filtering so I had to impose WEP which I think added more overheads. Playing the MB100 over the network was just too flaky.

In the end, I went back to dismantling the MB100 every few days to copy files manually from my PC/server to the MB100. Good thing I have another external HDD which uses the same power connector as the MB100 or that process would really piss me off.

What I do like abt the MB100 is how great the support is. The guys over at PixelMagic seem to be listening to our problems and are always directly engaged to help troubleshoot with beta/release firmware coming out at pretty good intervals.

I think right now, the one I am really looking forward to is the option to copy files directly to the internal HDD over network. This would give me the "pseudo" network connection to transfer files easily without resorting to dismantling all the audio/video/network and power connections each time.

Generally the MB100 works best in the following way
  • HD content on local HDD
  • DVD ISOs on USB2.0 direct connect or local HDD
  • DIVX/XVID on Ethernet, USB2.0 direct connect or local HDD

I believe they are also putting in support for a USB2.0 DVD-ROM as well.

ps Happy Annniversary, HW1-ers!!

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 Sunday May 14, 2006

Happy 8th Year Anniversary to HW1
17:19 PM - kan
Was just chatting with bktoh who came back from his Bangkok trip and he lightened up my day by saying someone could possibly donate a server to HW1. Time flies and today is the 8th year anniversary of HW1! I would have guess most of the folks who used to frequent this website have moved on with their life getting married and having kids. This website is still running to serve as a remembrance for the good-old times.

On behalf of HW1, I wish everyone good health!
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 Thursday April 27, 2006

SlowHub Access Speed
22:09 PM - kan
Looks like my cable ISP SlowHub is having some hiccups again. Darn, perhaps it's telling me to sleep early tonight. Oh yes, I did ask if they can refund me this month's subscription fee but I suspect they will conveniently ignore my request. PS: I'm on a 6.5 Mbps plan!!

Connecting to Server ...
Logging on to Server ...
Starting 1st download
Starting 2nd download
Download Successful !!
Download Stats:
Transfer Time: 70890 milliseconds
Total File Size: 6142976 bytes
Average Transfer Rate: 0.66 Mbps

Push Mail != Blackberry
11:44 AM - bktoh
The latest JasJar firmware (1.30.x) for the Dopod already implements most of these features a couple of months ago including Push Mail. And it is very very speedy too.

Unfortunately, BlackBerry has chosen not to support MS Exchange Push Mail. Bastids.. so will still need a Blackberry client on the PDA. Right now running on the T-Mobile firmware (v1.20 revision) which has a Blackberry client (from T-Mobile).

It is newer than the Dopod 900s shipping (older) v1.10 based firmware but no where near as fast as the recently released v1.30 ones)

ps Don't think you can get around the firewall restrictions still though. Still need the USB switch to get around that. Damn!
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 Wednesday April 26, 2006

New Dopod 818 and Dopod 900 ROMs
19:38 PM - kan
Okay, looks like bktoh's problems should be fixed by the new ROM releases of both Dopod 818 (which wymun and myself are using) and Dopod 900 ROMs. Actually I was using the i-Mate JAMIN for a while now and found it to be pretty stable. I will probably give this new Dopod 818 ROM a skip and perhaps wait for the next release which will hopefully comes with official A2DP (Advanced Audio Distribution Profile) support. For those of you who cannot wait for the official A2DP support, check out XDA Developers on how to implement it on your Dopod 818 now.

Dopod 900 ROM Code Update (2006/4/25)

ROM Version: 1.30.111 WWE
ROM Date: 04/06/06
Radio Version: 1.11.00
Protocol version: 42.45.P8
ExtROM version: 1.30.230 WWE


1) Provides client-side support for Microsoft DirectPush (push mail).
2) Improved Comm Manager interface for 1-click DirectPush on/off and data connection detach.
3) This update includes all prior updates.

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 Tuesday April 25, 2006

More Fun with Dopod and Windows Mobile 2005
16:04 PM - bktoh
So I finally got my ActiveSync 4 to sync with my Outlook in offline/online mode and even with VPN connections and Firewall enabled.

You know how?

Thanks to Dopod for providing the USB Switch utility. This is available for download on their Member site (requires registration but purchase not necessary).

Basically what USB switch does is to allow you to switch the USB connection to serial (reverts to the same mode used in ActiveSync 3 and Windows Mobile 2003).

Only thing is this switch is not permanent. Everytime you do a soft reset, it reverts back to the original network setting.


But I am now getting the hang of it.

If only the Dopod didn't sag my pants down so much

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 Saturday April 22, 2006

ActiveSync and Windows Mobile 2005 - Two steps back...
20:46 PM - bktoh
I moved out of a PocketPC phone (O2 XDA2 mini) and opted for a slightly smaller 3G phone (Sony Ericsson W900i), seeing as I could get more coverage when I travelled (3G would allow coverage when I was in Japan)

But the trend towards BlackBerry email access on the go in my current job suddenly made a compelling argument for me to move back to a PocketPC phone again.

Problem was: the only 3G PDA phone was the Dopod 900 and it was a brick. But a good friend of mine seemed to getting along swimmingly with the device so I thought it should have been a simple process to move back.

Boy! Was I ever wrong.

First, the monstrosity of what Microsoft called ActiveSync 4.1. It was already supposed to be an update on the even worse v4.0. Can't imagine how bad that version must have been after my experience with 4.1

Geez. You'd think after Microsoft painstakingly worked on ActiveSync 2 and 3 and got them almost bullet and idiot-proof, ActiveSync 4 would make that whole process a whole lot simpler and smoother.

But you'd be wrong.

ActiveSync 3.x was a walk in the park. Install, Connect and Auto Detect. I moved through 3 or 4 PPCs with nary a hitch in the install process.

But ActiveSync 4?

I guess warning bells should have been ringing when the Read Me First told me I had to disable Microsoft's OWN built-in firewall before you could auto-detect the PPC when setting up a partnership.

In my case, the company was using Symantec Client Security (built-in AntiVirus/Spam/Firewall/etc).

Looks like Symantec was too smart for its own good. Even disabling the firewall didn't help. It was ONLY when I fully un-installed the entire Client Security suite (getting rid of AntiVirus AND Firewall) did ActiveSync 4 even detect the PPC.


Then synchronizing data was a whole other headache. I got the dreaded 850xxxx error. Turned out ActiveSync 4 didn't like my Cisco VPN connection either.

So I disconnected it and ran Outlook in Offline mode.

No joy either. Apparently ActiveSync 4 didn't like Outlook running in Offline mode either.

I was messing about with Outlook and finally got it to work in Disconnected mode.

It was THEN AND ONLY THEN that Outlook managed to sync with the device.

I don't really blame Dopod for this. I know of the same pain when getting a Dell Axim with Windows Mobile 2005 and ActiveSync 4 to connect as well.

Can't believe Microsoft bothered to launch WM2005 and ActiveSync 4 with so many problems. It took me over an hour to install the drivers and ActiveSync and troubleshoot the connectivity issues... and I am already a seasoned Pocket PC user. Geez man!!

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