|Nixeus Fusion HD 1080p Media Player Review|
|Home Theater Media Servers Home Theater/Media Center PCs|
|Written by Dick Ward|
|Tuesday, 31 August 2010|
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It's not the menu experience that counts though. When dealing with a media player, the thing that really matters is, well, playing the media. This is the Fusion HD's bread and butter. If you've got a file, chances are the Fusion HD will play it. AVI and DivX are both supported, as are MPG, MP4, MKV, WMV, ASF and MOV. I tried just about all of these over the last two weeks and didn't come across a single file the Fusion HD wouldn't play. Every file, from standard definition television rips to 1080p video files performed without issue and, in the case of the HD files, looked amazing.
I gave the player a good workout when it came to audio too. I've got a nice collection of high bitrate MP3s and FLAC files, which all played without an issue. Whether playing from a USB storage device or streaming wirelessly from my netbook, everything worked wonderfully and sounded great. It should be noted that the Fusion HD doesn't support APE files, so if your lossless connection isn't in a more traditional format, this won't work out for you.
One fantastic feature of the Fusion HD is the ability to use audio files as background music. I was able to listen to music while setting up torrents, viewing pictures and browsing for something to watch. It's a little thing, but it's great to have. Locally stored music and video work beautifully with the Fusion HD, but it loses a lot of that great functionality when it comes to web based content. There's not much of it, and what's there doesn't always work well.
Browsing the web is an absolute pain, but that's no surprise. If you don't have a wireless keyboard and mouse attached, there's no point in even trying. When all is said and done, you'd be a lot better off with a netbook or iPad handy for all your IMDB and Facebook needs. The included web browser also lacks Flash support, which would be really nice to have for streaming sites like Hulu and for general web functionality. Flash functionality is apparently in the works, but it's not there yet.
I used the YouTube function of the Fusion HD to check out a StarCraft 2 replays from recent tournaments and found the implementation to be lacking. Videos needed to buffer far more than they should have, and since I was unable to pause the videos to allow them to fully buffer, I was forced to watch a minute at a time. After around a minute of playback, the buffering icon would come up, then the video would resume.
Once the video ended, a menu came up to allow me to select related videos, but nothing came up. It's not a function I use a lot on YouTube, but for multi-part videos it can be a real time saver. Trying to search for the second part of a video is a pain. I also spent some time with the Shoutcast functionality, which worked incredibly well. I checked out a few channels, including a fantastic Cameroonian online radio station playing a great mix of traditional African folk music. The stream kept going without stuttering or buffering. Streaming is a bit limited on the Fusion HD, and it would have been great to get Netflix, Blockbuster and Amazon on the device. Even a few more free services like Blip.tv would be a nice boost to a lackluster streaming suite.
Contrarily, the Fusion HD shines when it comes to downloads. With my hard drive installed, I was able to start nabbing files through the included BitTorrent client. There's no search functionality, so I had to download the tracker files on my computer first, and then select them from the Fusion HD. There's plenty of functionality in the torrent client, though it's not as robust as those you'll see on PC. You can set individual downloads to high, medium and low importance, limit your upload and download speed and even the amount of files going each way. It's not as smooth as running a program like uTorrent on your PC, but it has the added advantage of not eating up any valuable processing power. The Fusion HD is also a much more energy efficient device than most if not all PCs.
I should add that while I didn't personally need to call Nixeus technical support during my time with the Fusion HD, I've read nothing but great things about their response time. All support staff is based in the US, and customer service is quick to call back if you leave a message after business hours.
You can pick up the Fusion HD for an MSRP of $219, with a little bit of variation if you shop around. It's a bit more expensive than other digital media players like the $149 WD TV Live HD, but it's a very different type of device. The biggest selling points for the Fusion HD, as far as I see it, are the playback of ISO files, BitTorrent functionality and the ability to install a two terabyte hard drive right into the unit. On these points it performs admirably.
It's not a device that does everything. The Fusion HD does a few things, and it does them very well. For playback of downloaded and backed-up movies and music, you're not going to find much better than the Fusion HD.