NBOX Media Player
I've owned an NBOX media player for two years. It plays a variety of formats of standard definition videos, and also photos and audio files, from either USB or SD card through a TV or video projector.
Video output is either by composite (at SD resolution) or component video (upscaled to 720P). Left and right audio outputs are also provided.
These media players are available cheaply from Chinese suppliers such as dealextreme. We paid about $20, though more sophisticated versions are available at a higher price.
Opening the box
Four screws under the rubber feet allow access to the insides. There isn't mucn to see inside.
An AM Logic AML8613 chip does most of the work. This 144 pin LQFP package contains a 333 MHz RISC processor and everything required to read from memory cards and produce audio and video output. It supports S/PDIF output which is interesting as finding this and modifying the NBOX potentially allows a better standard of audio reproduction. As delivered, there is a slight whistle on the audio output (keep the volume on the NBOX at maximum at all times to make this as low as possible relative to the sound you want to be reproduced).
The other IC provides 16 megabytes of working memory (16 bits wide).
Buy one !
These gadgets are cheap, they're easy to use, they do what they're supposed to do, and they're widely available. Can't really go wrong with it. The widget on the left allows you to buy an NBOX from Amazon.
There are few controls on the top of the box, so operation is almost entirely with the remote control. This allows looking through directories on your drives, finding files to play and playing them. Once a file is playing, you can zoom in on the picture or change the aspect ratio. The device also support subtitles in the SRT format.
Converting video files to play
The NBOX supports MPEG 1, MPEG 2 and MPEG 4 DivX formats and also a range of different audio formats. However not everything plays. I wrote the follow Linux script to convert any video file which won't otherwise play into a format which works on the NBOX:
# Script to convert video files and copy to the NBOX
# Default destination is /tmp. Change this with (e.g.) -d /media/USBstick
if [ $1 = -d ]; then
echo Destination = $dst
echo file = $*
ffmpeg -i "$path_name" -vcodec mpeg4 -b 1200k -acodec mp2 -ac 2 -ab 128k "$dst/$filename".avi
# Synchronise filesystem in case the device is unplugged
# make a sound
If you are processing HD files which are greater than 720x576 resolution, then add "-s 640x480" to the ffmpeg line.
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