Many newer TVs on the market have USB ports on the side that let you play your own media files. Several also have network connectivity so that you can access content from your local network and from the Internet. However, not everyone has these newer TVs and -- to be honest -- the media-playing capabilities of these HDTVs isn't totally up to snuff either.
Giving you a little bit more is the Uebo M400 WiFi media player. This relatively simple box will fit neatly in your home theater configuration, granting you the ability to watch movies, stream content, and do all sorts of other entertaining things. Let's have a look.
The Bigger Brother Media Player
You might remember my review of the Uebo M50 mobile 1080p media player. That was a very small unit (that's what she said!) that left a lot to be desired. The audio and video got out of sync, making for anything but a watchable experience. The features were also quite limited.
The Uebo M400 is very different. While it is clearly being marketed as a media player, it boasts many functions and features that almost HTPC-like in scope. For example, that big antenna on the back gives you built-in Wi-Fi. There's also a gigabit LAN port on the back, support for USB 3.0, plenty of media file format support, true 1080p resolution with HD surround sound, and an internal dock for up to a 3TB hard drive.
The HTPC-like features include NAS, FTP, DLNA and torrent downloads, all without the aid of a PC. It has also been preloaded with several "apps" fo streaming Internet TV and Internet radio. You'll need a PlayOn subscription, but you can also get Netflix, CNN, ESPN, and Hulu and other services working on here too.
Installing the Internal Hard Drive
There are four screws in the base of the device and removing these allow you to remove the bottom plate. From there, you mount the bare 3.5-inch drive to the bottom plate with four more screws. Then, you attach the power and SATA cables from inside the device to the hard drive. Re-attach the bottom plate and you're basically done.
The user manual says that you will be asked to format the hard drive when you first turn on the Uebo, but this didn't happen for me. It took some fumbling around, but I found a "format" option in the setup menu. It is important to do this, because the drive may not otherwise work properly. After doing this, you can transfer files over the network or USB to the internal hard drive.
Playing Local Media
The good news is, quite unlike the smaller M50, I had no issues with audio and video synchronization on the M400. I tried a variety of different file formats in a variety of resolutions and codecs, experiencing no problems whatsoever. This is fantastic for people who may have file formats that are a little less common than AVI.
I would say that the Uebo M400 is at least on par with the Western Digital WDTV Live, which is still one of my favorite HD media players to this day. This includes video formats, audio formats, and picture formats. I have no complaints in this regard, though I would have like a more robust music player, especially when I want to build larger playlists for background music at parties and other functions.
Using Online Features
Usually, navigating through any of the online features on a media player like this can be quite the exercise in frustration. That's because using an on-screen keyboard can make you want to tear out your hair. The good news is that a wired or wireless USB keyboard and mouse are fully supported here.
Just like the Asus O!Play HD2 and others like it, the main online interface for many of these features is limited. The Flickr app is nothing like Flickr on a PC. However, streaming video over YouTube or using the on-board web browser are suitable and sufficient.
The BT Client Is Not Running
This is easily the biggest frustration that I had with the Uebo M400. I can "see" the hard drive in the file manager and I can play media files from it. I can enjoy the range of online features without too much of a hitch at all. However, for the life of me, I couldn't get the BitTorrent client to work properly.
The instructions simply state to turn on the BT server in the online settings and start the torrent downloads. You can adjust the limits for uploads and downloads, choose the maximum number of simultaneous torrents, and so forth. However, I couldn't get the BT server to activate. When I tried to turn it on, I'd get an error message saying that the "BT client is not running."
I assume there is some kind of fix for this and I have approached technical support for assistance. They have not yet been helpful, but I will update this post when (and if) they do help.
MEGATechie Entertainment or MEGATechie Frustration?
I'm not sure. On the one hand, I greatly appreciate the wealth of features that the Uebo M400 brings to the table. From integrated Wi-Fi and gigabit LAN to an internal hard drive dock and online features, this is a step above what you may find with many other media players out there. Format support is strong and network streaming (including streaming over the Internet) is quite good.
The interface can still be a little sluggish and it lacks some visual appeal, but this is not an Apple TV. For my part, the one thing that really drags down the M400 is the apparently broken BitTorrent client. If that works and works well, then this gets a pretty good recommendation on my part.
I just wish the user interface on products like this (and on HDTVs, for that matter) got with the program and at least made par with all the smartphones and tablets that are out there. The M400 currently carries an MSRP of $189.99.