We've been fans of the Helios H4000 upconverting DivX player for a while, thanks to its slim form factor, 1080p output, and relatively low price. But if you're looking to go one level up to a connected player, the Helios X3000 is the one for you. Combining the H4000's playback features—which decodes DivX, MPEG1/2/4, XViD, WMVHD, VOB and TS video—with networking functionality, The X3000 is a set-top-box that can play back just about every file you have in the house.
Did we like it? You bet your mother (in-law).
The features the X3000 has in common with the H4000—5.1 surround audio via optical or component audio outputs, HDMI, component, and VGA video—don't disappoint on the X3000. Upscaling DVDs looks great on our HDTV set in 1080i, and the 5.1 surround sounded solid on our setup as well. But the new stuff performed admirably too.
The X3000 has both ethernet and 802.11g wireless (complete with antenna). By using Window's Media Connect, you can hook up to any folder on your PC and play back any supported video file—DivX, etc.—without having to burn the disc first. If your wireless connection is fast enough and home layout obstruction free, there's no cables needed to set this up either.
In addition, there's a NeoLink Server Software that comes with the player so you can install and share music and photos as well. The Helios Media Portal is a sort of online portal you can reach with your player, but didn't have all that much content when we tested it out. Sort of a novelty rather than something you're going to be using all the time.
So is the networking functionality really worth going up $200 to $379 from the H4000's $169? We'd say so. If you're a frequent connoisseur of downloaded media, it'll save you lots of time and DVD-R discs by streaming instead of burning. But if you're looking for a thrifty solution without networking, you're be fine with the Helios H4000.
Product Page [Neodigits]
Update: Reader Jeff notes you can save $37 by ordering here:
Product Page [Modern Joys]