Short version: The uebo M200 is a fine enthusiast media streamer. It played back every file I tried from either a local or network source, works well with UPnP services like PlayOn, and even has a few built-in Internet services. The interface isn’t Boxee-awesome, but it’s more than enough to get the job done. I like it.
I wasn’t expecting much from this media streamer. After all it’s from a company I’ve never heard of and it’s only $129. I pictured an ugly interface with a poor navigation path and lackluster web applications. My thoughts were somewhat confirmed by Engadget’s negative look at the box. But then I tried it and found out it’s a solid streamer worthy of your time.
Now, this isn’t a mass-market device. It’s not a Roku, which I totally feel is well within my parent’s technical skill set to operate. The M200 is clearly for you and I. It’s for the person that’s comfortable with different types of media files, navigating network shares, and would be able to figure out how to install a hard drive in this thing without documentation. Think of it as a direct competitor to the WD TV, Seagate FreeAgent Theater and Popcorn Hour.
In fact I actually like it better than the current reigning media streamers because of its interface. The navigation paths are bit more natural and it takes less time to locate media either from the local storage or network shares. The Media Browser with is auto-selected when the device is started up; just hit OK on the remote and you’re already halfway there. It just feels like the people that made this device actually understand how media streamers are used and thought about the user experience before overall design.
That’s not to say it looks bad, because it doesn’t. It might have the best UI of the current generation of media streamers. It has nothing on the upcoming interface or feature set of Popbox or Boxee box, though.
The online media services are limited to Internet radio, Flickr, Picasa, a basic weather app, and a RSS reader preloaded with CNN, NPR, and BBC. Other online content can still play nicely such as Hulu but only through the UPnP service of PlayOn, which doesn’t exactly have the pretty interface. But it gets the job done.
That basically describes this device. It gets the job done nice and efficiently. There isn’t much flash, just the right amount of eye candy to enjoy while you’re searching for your media. That’s all I want anyway.
The M200 hardware is just as good as its software. Once again you need to remember this device isn’t meant for the average Walmart shopper. It’s meant for the home theater enthusiast that’s looking for a versatile media streamer. The M200 has two external USB ports that supports both flash drives and bus-powered external hard drives. Content can either be played back from USB or easily copied onto the internal hard drive if you happen to have installed. The same goes for the SD card reader.
The backside houses all the standard A/V ports and this thing is stacked. It has everything: HDMI, component, composite, Toslink, digital coax, and Ethernet. WIN.
The only thing that could be improved on is the remote. It’s not the best. The buttons are oddly placed and it looks straight-out of a Black Friday cheap DVD player. But it does get the job done. At least it isn’t missing any buttons.