|Escient Fireball DVDM-100 DVD and Music Manager|
|Home Theater Media Servers Video Servers|
|Written by Brian Kahn|
|Wednesday, 01 September 2004|
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I used the FireBall DVDM-100 primarily to watch movies and listen to DVD-Audio discs. I also used it to listen to Internet radio on a few occasions, mainly for background music.
Beginning with OpenGlobe and moving through the FireBall’s capabilities, I found OpenGlobe to be mildly entertaining. OpenGlobe is a service that I believe will become more useful as it is further developed. Currently, the OpenGlobe service provides limited music news and trivia questions, as well as the ability to purchase featured CDs and DVDs. I doubt that many people will be spending much time with OpenGlobe at this time, but it is nice to know it’s there as the service develops.
The FireBall’s DVDM-100 Internet radio function was easy to use. As with all Internet radio devices, the sound quality varies greatly and is heavily dependent on what is being transmitted. Over the past year or so, I have found that the quality of the stations available on the Internet radio receiver vary, definitely much more so than with conventional stations. Nonetheless, it can be an excellent source for finding new music and old favorites for non-critical listening. The niche programming on Internet radio ranges from guys in Amsterdam strung out on pills playing cool Euro-electronica to people in the Alaskan tundra programming heavy metal. Your programming options, unlike traditional radio, are endless. The sound for these stations range from okay to crappy and have a lot to do with the broadcast quality and your own connection speed. If you are looking for an audiophile source for new music, Internet radio is not for you. However, if you are looking for a new source to find cool new bands in subgenres you like, Internet radio is brilliant.
For those of us who are demanding audio/videophiles, the FireBall DVDM-100 does not disappoint. While the main benefit of having an FireBall DVDM-100 in your system is the ability to seamlessly integrate media from multiple changers and find it quickly, this is of limited value if the playback quality suffers. Not to worry with the FireBall. I found that the FireBall box passed 5.1 analog audio, digital audio and component video without any noticeable degradation. Those with multiple changers will benefit the most, as they will no longer have to daisy-chain the outputs from changers two and three through any other changer. Furthermore, with the FireBall DVDM-100k, one can access the 5.1 analog audio from all three changers. This means that your SACD and DVD-Audio discs can be in any changer. Without the DVDM-100, all SACDs and DVD-Audio discs have to be in changer number one, as there is no daisy-chaining ability for 5.1 analog audio.
Navigating the discs is fairly easy, as the FireBall automatically places them in alphabetical order in one large group. From here, the group can be broken into sub-groups, such as DVD-Audio, action, comedy, etc. Another way of finding the disc you want, although not quite as fast but very cool nonetheless, is “cover view.” In this mode, the jackets from the discs are displayed on the screen and one simply uses the cursor to highlight and select the movie (a la Kalidescape). The speed of navigation is limited only by the ability of the changers to physically access the requested disc.