Anyone here use this device? PHD-HM5 Advanced Home Networked HD Media Player - Home Theater Forum and Systems -

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post #1 of 3 Old 11-08-10, 04:40 PM Thread Starter
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Join Date: Mar 2010
Location: Colorado
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Anyone here use this device? PHD-HM5 Advanced Home Networked HD Media Player

PHD-HM5 Advanced Home Networked HD Media Player

I would like to use with my Netgear ReadyNAS Duo if possible. Has anyone tried this?
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post #2 of 3 Old 03-08-11, 07:29 PM
Join Date: Mar 2011
Location: Portland, OR
Posts: 5
Re: Anyone here use this device? PHD-HM5 Advanced Home Networked HD Media Player

While I do not (yet?) use a NAS, I can report a bit on the PHD-HM5 and my use of it (especially since no one else has stepped up to the plate).

I won't go into the specs (you can find these on the web easily). I took mine out of the box, plugged it in and first tried to play unprotected mp4 video files on a USB thumb-drive. It worked perfectly! While these particular mp4 files were formatted for an iPad they look very good on an HD monitor. File acquisition was fast and playback was smooth.

Next, I hooked up a separately-powered USB external hard disc. This too was recognized with unprotected content playing the same as it did from the thumb-drive. The only difference was that this content was a mixture of 720p and 1080p formatted HD video. It was still fast and smooth.

I set up a computer on my network to act as a stand-in server (I haven't finished building and configuring a dedicated Windows Home Server yet). At first I was having problems streaming content. Most of my problems were related to share permissions on the "server" machine and trying to play encrypted content. Using unprotected content and installing the free Tversity Media Server took care of all the difficulties.

With the new "software tools" installed, I could access unprotected DVD and BluRay files on the hard disc and on optical discs in drives remotely over my home network and when streamed to the PHD-HM5 they played great! I was most impressed with the mt2s 1080p HD files I played from disc that were taken on a Canon HD camcorder. If the Canon camcorder was USB equipped, I could have played files directly by plugging it into the USB ports of the PHD-HM5 but since it is a Firewire device I did not have that option.

The one interesting thing I noted was on a 1080p BluRay music concert disc with high bit-rate HD Audio, the player stumbled a bit in the video department and audio cut in and out at first. After the PHD-HM5 warmed up for 5 or 10 minutes it played flawlessly. Cold, it didn't stumble on HD movie or standard DVD content but high def video with high def Dolby or DTS surround sound I saw this occur. Once the box warmed up a little it played fine. Perhaps I was nearing the edge of the capabilities of my home network (definitely NOT optimized for media streaming). EDIT: I verified that this particular video has ONE spot that causes this problem in the player and it plays fine just prior to and just after this spot. I am going to re-transcode the original and see if the problem disappears. This is the ONLY file I have tried that trips the box up so far.

I took the problem HD video file and used Handbrake software to transcode it to an mp4 file (of about half the size of the original disc file) and had it mixdown the audio to a stereo Dolby Pro Logic track. This file was smooth all the time and never missed a beat.

With Tversity taking care of the Media Server side and the PHD-HM5 taking care of the player side of the equation, I was quite impressed how quickly I got quite satisfactory performance. Consider this:

1. My home network was based on a Verizon (now Frontier) FIOS default router that they provide.
2. The "server" computer was on one port of a multi-port Network Switch connected to one router port.
3. The PHD-HM5 was on its own router port on the other side of the house (Cable = 50-60ft).
3. The network was not designed or configured to be optimized for media streaming in any way.
4. The only streaming experience I had had to this point was getting several Roku boxes set-up for Netflix.

Special thanks to the guys at HD Nation (Revision 3 net TV) for giving me all the clues I needed (Tversity, AnyDVD, Handbrake) in one of their shows about Media Streaming to get a system up and functional in a single evening!

Now that I have proven the concept I will start to explore a few options to tune the performance possibilities of the system. All of this operation is based on UPNP (universal plug & play). No special DLNA capabilities are at work here, plain old UPNP networking! Music, Photos and Videos all work well on the player.

For $59.00 plus shipping, I think the PHD-HM5 is a great deal and a relatively solid performer for an entry-level price. I am not associated with the company, just a satisfied customer. The PHD-HM5 was an afterthought on my order for one of their HDMI ATSC/QAM tuner STBs!

One more note: I upgraded the firmware of the PHD-HM5 from a more current version on their website using a thumb-drive through one of the device's USB ports and it worked exactly as described in the online PDF document that accompanies the upgrade file.

I'm glad I took the leap of faith!

Update: Not being married to any hardware in this horse-race (yet), I decided to order a PlayOn HD media streaming player in order to explore the aspect of directly playing and navigating optical disc contents written to an ISO file. My player should be here shortly before the "Version 2" of this device gets released. Then I'll order one of those to evaluate. There is no substitute for first-hand experience!

Last edited by pacAir; 03-21-11 at 05:09 PM. Reason: New Info
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post #3 of 3 Old 03-29-11, 01:51 PM
Join Date: Mar 2011
Location: Portland, OR
Posts: 5
Re: Anyone here use this device? PHD-HM5 Advanced Home Networked HD Media Player

Just for informational purposes:

I spent a weekend testing my new PlayOn HD media player (which costs 2.5 times the PHD-HM5). There was no contest, the PlayOn is built better, has a better GUI, has more features, is easier to use, supports an internal hard drive and has support for more formats.

The PHD works quite well for what it does but the PlayOn HD is in another category altogether.

Interestingly, I found the network streaming performance for both units virtually identical which suggests that my network is probably the limiting factor.

You get what you pay for I suppose. This observation isn't meant to denigrate the PHD's performance (which was generally exemplary). It is just to point out that the PlayOn HD is a more deluxe unit and it appears to be a more modern design. The PHD will still enjoy use on my network but it has definitely been relegated to secondary status by the AC Ryan box.
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