|Orb TV VP-1 Review|
|Home Theater Media Servers Video Servers|
|Written by AVRev.com|
|Thursday, 27 January 2011|
The rapid growth of the smart phone market has heavily influenced design choices and device compatibility in the home theater realm, both with audio and video components. For instance, you couldn’t go more than a few steps at CES 2011 without seeing another device that was utilizing Apple’s Airplay functionality for streaming media. There are devices being released with molded ports for iPhones, iPads, iPod Touches and the barrage of Android phones. In addition, the home theater television is getting smarter and providing access to a wider variety of web content like Netflix, Hulu and other downloadable video services. If you don’t want to upgrade to that net connected TV yet, there are a barrage of step-top boxes and Blu-ray players that can perform the same function. Beyond that, there are devices like the Orb TV VP-1.
Beyond your own media, the device allows you to connect to services like YouTube, Hulu, Netflix, ESPN3 etc… Since the source believes that this is running into a PC, you aren’t running into problems like Hulu blocking their services in order to promote access to Hulu Plus. The device takes the streaming video and encodes it for your television. Unfortunately, the glaring problem with the device is that it cannot handle High Definition. The output is often fluctuates between DVD quality and broadcast TV quality, typically sending over a SD signal to the television. Frankly, image quality stinks due to the huge amount of noise and artifacts that covered the screen during playback. This is a huge black mark for anyone that owns a HD television.
It also makes Netflix and Hulu streaming content significantly worse than devices like the Apple TV, Blu-ray players or the gaming consoles. You cannot watch any of the Netflix HD content and Hulu content is often prone to freezing due to certain ad placements that the device can’t encode. You also cannot log into your Hulu account, a necessity if you want to watch anything that’s rated TV-MA. The shows that can be played often take a while to start streaming, something that’s fairly annoying when sitting down to watch a show. The Orb Controller also likes to list older episodes that aren’t even still available on Hulu, another annoying problem with media selection.
We are somewhat befuddled as to who this device is targeted at. Someone that hasn’t upgraded to a HD television yet probably doesn’t care much about advanced streaming technology for their home. Those that did upgrade to HD are going to be disappointed with the video quality and are likely much better off picking up an Apple TV (same price) or Western Digital TV Live Hub ($100 more) to have direct access to streaming content that looks vastly better than encoded material on the Orb TV. Without HD streaming, this iteration of the Orb TV really doesn’t fit into the current home theater and we can’t recommend it for anyone that wants to upgrade their theater for access to web based video.