Centrix MVP-100 20GB Portable Video Player Reviewed

SITEC System is a portable technology developer located in Seoul Korea. They were kind enough to send us one of their very first Centrix MVP-100 20GB Portable Video Players to evaluate, although it is not yet available to the North American market, deals are being made to bring it out to us this year.

The MVP-100 is a very well manufactured device; it has a sturdy design, feels very solid and is definitely an eye-catcher. It measures 130 x 78 x 24.5 mm and weighs 285g, relatively light for its size. In the box you get; Earphones, Cable remote controller, AC adaptor, USB cable, AV cable, Protector Cover, Carrying Case, Armband, User Manual and Application CD.

Device Design

The front of the device has 5 controls, starting clockwise on the top left is Power, Menu, Stop/Escape, Pause/Play and in the center is the Volume Up/Down and Rewind/Fast Forward toggle, it also doubles as the “enter” function when pressed in. On the top is the camera capture button, on the bottom is an unknown port, my guess would be that it’s for a future docking station.

On the left side is the main connection panel, it uses a cleverly designed spring loaded cover that flips open and locks nicely, it seems durable and would last longer than those cheap rubber covers you usually see on devices. The ports from left to right are; the headphone jack, AV Output, USB 2.0 host port, and USB 2.0 port to connect to your computer.

When you plugin your AV output cable and send video to the TV, it looks amazing. Of course you will be limited to 720 X 480 resolution, but if you have a good quality video file, you will think twice about ever using your notebooks video output ever again. I sent it out to my 27-inch Panasonic TAO TV and it was very sharp and clean, both NTSC and PAL output is supported.

With the USB 2.0 host port, you can transfer/backup data easily both ways to a digital camera, USB memory, external hard drive and other portable USB devices without connecting to a PC.

The LCD screen is a 3.5 TFT QVGA (320 x 240) with excellent resolution to say the least. You will enjoy watching a film on it no doubt; the size is in the same range as your average PDA. In fact, if they used a touch-screen LCD I don’t see why it couldn’t be a PDA, just toss on some additional software and you are good to go.

A clip on plastic cover allows you to be a bit careless and not worry about scratching or scuffing the highly polished LCD. Of course there is a nice soft padded case that comes with the device, but that is a bit too big to keep in your pocket.

On the flipside is the very disappointing 1.3 megapixel camera lens, the photos were so terrible that I still don’t understand why this was put in the device. There’s also a tiny little flash, it’s so small its cute, but by no means will it actually illuminate an object like you would expect a flash to. The device would be better off without the camera and flash, it would easily make room for another feature that should have been put on; like a video input record option. Maybe this feature will come if there is indeed a docking station, but there are no definite plans as of yet and is purely speculation.

The battery is huge; it takes up almost half the devices size and a good part of its weight. A 3.7V 3000mAh Li-Polymer rechargeable is tucked in the back nicely and is easily removed, it will charge very fast, about 1 hour or less to full. Playback time for video is rated at 4 hours and audio at 10 hours.


System Interface

About 8 seconds after you hold down the power button, the device boots to the main system. From there you have 8 options; MusicBox, VideoBox, PhotoBox, Text, Snapshot, Voice Recorder, File Manager and Setting.
Music Box is the MVP-100’s built in audio player, the software supports just about every audio format out there; MPEG 1/2/2.5 Layer 3, WMA, WAV, OGG, AC-3 and Low Complexity AAC. It displays the Title, Artist, Album, Bitrate, Balance, Volume, File Format, Mode and EQL.

Video Box
is where the device performs its best. After selecting your AVI, MPG, MPEG, DAT, DivX or Xvid file (no MOV support) the device “loads” buffers the video for about 3 seconds (longer depending how large your file is) and then begins the smoothest most vivid playback I have seen on any hard drive based player to date. I would honestly compare its quality to those portable DVD players. It will playback MPEG1(VCD), MPEG2(DVD), MPEG4, DivX, Xvid and AVI files with SMI (subtitles). After tweaking the brightness and contrast, you can get a very vivid and crisp picture.

PhotoBox
will let you browse any photo (JPG, BMP or GIF) that you put on the hard drive, even the disappointing photographs that are taken by the built-in camera can be viewed. A slideshow feature is available for viewing an album without any user intervention.

Text
would be a great tool if anyone just read plain old TXT files these days. Without support for PDF and DOC files, I really can’t find myself using this option and converting files to read on here. But when you do load a TXT file, the text is very legible and is formatted nicely across the screen, but not having key file support is a slight downer.

Snapshot
is the software to take photos. It will enable a real-time view from the camera; don’t get too excited about this. Just because the resolution is 1.3 megapixels doesn’t mean you are going to get a decent looking photo. Size doesn’t mean anything when it comes to lens quality. I would highly recommend to the manufacturers about changing the lens in future versions, this one is worse off than a disposable camera. I hate to say this about the device considering its video and audio playback is one of the best I have seen and heard, but it has to be said. The camera sucks.

Voice Recorder
allows you to record voice audio from the devices internal microphone located on the top. It does an exceptional job at recording audio and encoding it to MP3 at 128 Kbps or 96 Kbps on the fly.

File Manager
brings me back to the old Norton Commander days, you have two tabs, one is the local HD and the other is your USB device (if connected). Here you can swap files, delete, move them to another location. One problem I found is the lack of a transfer status indicator, when you select a folder or file to send to USB or copy from USB, you have no idea when it will be done.

Settings
of course allow you to fine tune the devices options to your liking. In Display settings you have Brightness and Contrast controls, as well as TV-out mode (NTSC/PAL) and language preference (Korean or English).

System information shows the model name, OS version (1.1.0 here), hard drive space and usage, LCD power off time and device idle power off minutes. From here you would also reset the device to default settings or upgrade firmware.

Music setting allows for the external speaker to be turned on or off, which I forgot to mention. The speakers are very exceptional in quality, you could even manage to watch a flick or listen to music through them without being disappointed. Next is the Equalizer, options are; Standard, Rock, Pop, Jazz, Classic, Dance, Heavy, Disco, Soft, 3D Stereo and Hall. Bass boost can be changed from Linear to Adaptive. Audio balance from Left to Right can be adjusted. Repeat modes can be changed to All, None or Song and let’s not forget Shuffle.

Video settings will let you view movies at Original Size or Full Screen. Turn subtitles On or Off. Change subtitle language from Korean or English. Seek interval when using fast forward or rewind can be adjusted in 5-second intervals up to 600.

Image settings control the slide show, On or Off and the slide show time.

Voice Recorder setting will control bitrate from 96 to 128 Kbps or adjust the mic volume.


Wrap-up

All-in-all the Centrix MVP-100 is a great 20GB portable video and audio player. The playback quality of audio at 320 Kbps maximum is unbeatable, the wide range of support for all the latest video codecs (MPEG1(VCD), MPEG2(DVD), MPEG4, DivX, Xvid and AVI) and the high-quality LCD display screen are great selling features and make it an excellent multimedia tool.

Unfortunately the 1.3-megapixel digital camera was unusable and provided unbearable results. I would remove this from the device altogether, or fix the low light and blurred image issue before it gets to the North American market this year.

Pros

- Amazing video playback quality
- Small size and great design
- Excellent software for playback and recording audio
- Battery life is good for 2 full length movies or more

Cons

- Worst digital camera I have ever seen (see for yourself; shot 1, shot 2)
- No transfer status indicator in file manager
- No video recording function

Complete specifications available from the manufacturer.


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