Name: Digital Stream DPS-1000 (Onyx)
Type: Web connected media streamer
Specs: Click here for full specs
Price: £89.99 from Amazon
Looking for web-connected features from your ageing flatscreen TV? Then the Digital Stream DPS-1000 from Onyx (recently refreshed to add LoveFilm support), may suit your needs for a bargain price, providing you can put up with a few glaring omissions.
Though its heavily vented black chassis wont win it any style awards, the Onyx DPS-1000 is attractively small. Measuring up at roughly 16cm x 12cm x 3.5 cm, it’ll sit discretely alongside most AV set ups. On the rear you’ll find one HDMI port, a scart connection, two USB ports and an Ethernet port. That Ethernet port will be of the utmost importance here, as the DPS-1000 lacks a Wi-Fi connection. It seems a remarkable oversight considering the device is used primarily for web and network connected media streaming; you’ll have to make sure your TV is placed near your router in order to wire it up tidily, or else hunt around for a compatible third-party Wi-Fi dongle.
It’s a shame that this may put off potential buyers, as the interface and content portals on offer in the DPS-1000 are very good indeed. Built around UK-based Oregan’s web platform first seen in last year’s Cello TV range, it does away with many of the international fluff found in many larger brands web-connected TV portals. Instead, you’re treated to a line up that includes the afore-mentioned LoveFilm, BBC iPlayer, BlinkBox, YouTube and a host of other Web TV offerings.
A mainscreen features a series of widgets, including Twitter, Facebook and news and weather feeds down the right hand side, which while welcome, likely wont get much use as they can be fiddly to navigate, particularly the social networks. The rest of the screen is made of a carousel-like series of icons leading to each content provider.
First up is the iPlayer portal, almost identical to that seen in Cello’s iPlayer TV range. It’s a slick and fast interface, with the usual “Just In”, “Highlights” and “Last Played” tabs. Normal, high and HD quality video, where available, can be toggled through, while a serviceable search function lets you browse the current BBC catalogue.
LoveFilm offers information on all 70,000-odd movies it has in its catalogue, though only a fraction of those can be streamed via the DPS-1000, and none of those in HD. That’s not a problem unique to this device though; it’s the same with the LoveFilm desktop portal and the one found in the PS3 games console. Regardless, it’s again a tidy and well organised interface, giving the option also for subscribers to order Blu-ray or DVD rental versions of those films not available for streaming. Dynamic searching of the LoveFilm library, throwing up new results every time you input each letter, is a little unnecessary in this format however, often annoyingly slowing down search speeds. £5.99 will give 2 hours of online viewing time, while those who opt for the £15.99 subscription will get unlimited access, as well as the ability to order physical disc rentals from LoveFilm.
BlinkBox, while offering a slightly more clunky interface than LoveFilm, is just as well stocked, with US shows such as the West Wing sitting alongside The Inbetweeners, as well as a fair few movies too. Blinkbox’s value rentals (starting at £1) gives it a slight edge over LoveFilm in regards to pricing, and there are nice options to nab full TV show boxsets from between £12.99 and £15.99.
Of more questionable quality is the WebTV portal, pulling in video content from myriad sources. Here’s where you’ll find the likes of YouTube and Flickr, alongside more unusual sources such as Disney Channel Movie Previews, Larry King, the Discovery Channel, UEFA.com and Sesame Street. Presented in a list with thumbnails, it’s a motley crew of feeds and video sources, though they’re disparate enough to offer at least a few gems to most viewers.
Once connected to a networked PC or media server, or by plugging in a USB drive loaded with media content, you’ll also be able to access various image, music and video files through the box. In a nice touch, a search feature will scan both your networked content and the web portals available here, pulling results into one compiled list. In terms of file playback, BMP and JPEG images and MP3 and WMA files work fine, but things get a little more complex on the video front. AVI (DivX), WMV, VOB, MP4 HD, MKV (DivX HD), and WMV HD files worked from a USB stick (but not H.264 MOV or QuickTime) while network searches only recognised MOV, DivX, MP4 and AVCHD files.
It’s worth noting that anyone with a Wii or PS3 console will already have access to most of what is on offer here. While the lack of built in Wi-Fi support may keep the price of this diminutive media streamer down, it could prove a deal breaker for all but those with a router very nearby their television sets. If you fall into that likely very small bracket, you’ll come away impressed with the DPS-1000, whose many features and content portals gives even the most recent web connected TV offerings from major brands a run for their money. It’s well polished on the software front, even if its hardware leaves a little to be desired.