The following equipment and software was used for the tests:
- Two category 5e Ethernet cables
- USB cable included with the player
- Intel Centrino notebook
- AverMedia AverTV Studio 307 TV-tuner
- Seagate Barracuda 7200.10 hard disk drive (SATA-2, 250GB) installed in the HD360W
- Trendnet TEW-633GR router
- RightMark Audio Analyzer
- HD movie (DivX HD, TS)
I decided to check out the quality of the sound and video reproduced by the player as these seem to be its most important parameters. I did it in a simple way. I just watched a few movies in different formats and tested the sound quality with RightMark Audio Analyzer.
Alas, it is virtually impossible to convey the quality of the picture by means of a camera shot while the TV-tuner I had at hand was unable to take high-quality screenshots. Anyway, the result I’ve got is also indicative of the high quality of video playback. The HD360W produced a superb picture on a 29-inch TV-set. Whatever video format I tried, the player showed it without hang-ups or delay or anything which are the common problems with such multimedia devices.
It’s worse with the sound. I could not achieve the recommended signal level on the player’s output. And RightMark Audio Analyzer evaluated the player’s analog audio output as Poor when tested together with a mainboard’s line input, which was evaluated by the same program as Good. These poor results must be due to interference from the internal HDD. That’s a common problem with such devices.
The speed of the player’s HDD was tested in the traditional way we use for benchmarking NAS devices. I mounted the player’s internal HDD as a local volume on the test PC in the NDAS manager. Then I benchmarked the mounted volume with IOMeter. I used two patterns: a 512-byte one to find the maximum number of disk operations per second, and a 64KB pattern for checking out the maximum data-transfer rate. Both patterns were doing sequential reading/writing to achieve maximum performance. This test was performed for each interface in read and write mode.
The table suggests that the player’s special USB interface is very fast whereas the 802.11g interface is very slow. The speed of the wired LAN connection is in fact limited by the peak bandwidth of the Fast Ethernet interface. So, you should write information to the player’s internal disk through the USB port where data transfers seem to be going directly through the USB-IDE bridge. The Wi-Fi connection is fast enough for you to watch non-HD movies if the access point is located near the player (in the same room) and is more than enough for music and photos.
Finally I measured the coverage area of the player’s wireless interface. This test was performed within a single apartment. I used IOMeter like in the previous tests but measured the speed of writing to the disk (this is the operation performed when playing over the network) in 64KB blocks at three points (the number of rooms in the apartment):
- Room 1: where the player is located
- Room 2: 2 meters away, separated by a 10cm wall from the player
- Room 3: 5 meters away, separated by two walls from the players
There are no surprises. Notwithstanding the low speed of the wireless connection, it behaves like most other 802.11g adapters.
Thus, I can make two points out of the tests. First, the HD360W has problems reproducing audio (although these problems are not conspicuous). Second, the Wi-Fi interface is but a formal advantage of this player (even though this connection is fast enough for certain applications). Otherwise, the player did well in the tests.