Icy Box IB-MP309HW-BManufacturer: RaidSonic
UK Price (as reviewed): £200.09 (inc. VAT)
US Price (as reviewed):
The movement of PCs away from the desktop and into the living room is gradually changing the way we keep and store our media, with many of you already choosing to keep your DVDs and Blu-rays in a purely digital, ripped format rather than messing about with such archaic ideas as “physical media.” Indeed, after a number of recent updates both the Playstation 3 and Xbox 360 both can now stream and play a variety of popular video formats, which makes getting your media library off of your PC and onto your flatscreen TV that much easier.
Of course, the games consoles are still very limited codec-wise and the best option for home video playback remains a dedicated home theatre PC. However, the cost of a fully fitted Mini-ITX system can be surprisingly steep, and setting one up can be a little laborious if all you want to do is play a few 1080p movie trailers or vidcasts.
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Enter the catchily named Icy Box IB-MP309HW, a standalone media player that promises to deliver all the playback power of a home theatre PC in a streamlined and slimline package, with more than a few surprising extras thrown in for good measure. Boasting support for every popular video and audio codec, as well as the ability to play even high bit-rate 1080p video, could the Icy Box MP309 secure a place beside the communal bit-tech
On looks alone it’s already got a strong chance, with the unit itself looking extremely sleek and clean in black brushed aluminium with a classy silver trim that certainly wouldn’t look out of place next to a few grands worth of high-end audio visual kit. Be warned though that all that great looking black aluminium is an absolute nightmare to keep free from fingerprints, although the lack of any controls on the unit itself mean you’ll rarely be touching the unit after installation.
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Like the AC.Ryan PlayOn! DVR
we looked at earlier this month, the Icy Box is a shell player, with space for a 3.5” hard disk drive inside on which to store data for easier playback. Installation is wonderfully easy, with the exterior casing easily removed and the hard drive simple to slide onto the combined SATA power and data connectors that are fitted into the drive tray. There are also twin clips with which to firmly secure the drive into place, although sadly no sort of vibration dampening - so choosing a low noise hard disk drive is a must. As we’ve done previously, we fitted a Western Digital 1TB Green drive into the Icy Box, precisely because it excels at running both coolly and quietly.
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Looking at the Icy Box’s rear panel reveals it has all the HD-capable outputs you’d expect of a device designed for outputting 1080p, with HDMI and Component for HD displays, and Composite outputs for those yet to make the jump. There’s also separate S-Video, S/PDIF (both optical and coaxial) and USB 2.0B ports, with a 10/100 Ethernet port completing the cornucopia of connectivity. However, we’re surprised to see only 10/100 Ethernet connectors and not gigabit, which is better suited for transferring and streaming those massive HD movies files. Still, we suppose you can't have everything.