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Date: May 7th, 2008
Article by: Karl Van der Walt (Hardware Reviewer)
Edited by: Nathan Glentworth (Owner / Head Editor)
Product was submitted by: VL System
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SOFTWARE


The CD comes with 2 applications, Revo, a media player of sorts designed to be used with the remote and M.Play Home Center which allows you to customize almost every aspect of both the remote and the display. There is also software for the fan controller.


Revo



The user interface is designed for use with the remote and is easy to navigate.



The music playing feature works passably well but still isn't as good as the likes of Winamp and Real Player.


M.Play Home Center




Here we come to what I thought was the coolest part of the M-Play Blast. The software allows you to configure almost every aspect of both the VFD display and the remote. The VFD can show anything from custom logos that you can create using the provided editor all the way to your network traffic.


There are so many functions in the software that I will not go in depth here about them all. Suffice it to say that you can see all kinds of system settings and features on your VFD.



At the push of the “guide” button on your remote you can pull up this display, giving you access to your fan controller settings as well as the temperature of the sensor attached to the VFD. I set up my sensor in my power supply seeing as its one area in my PC that lacks a sensor. Note that you need to install the fan controller software on the driver CD for this function to work. This is a very handy little feature that I will likely use often in the future.


The inclusion of a temperature sensor and 2-channel fan controller make the VFD display more than the sum of its parts. In most media center cases drive bays are in short supply and combining so many features in one unit is a huge plus for the M-Play blast.


Testing



Above is a quick animated GIF showing some of the many things the VFD can display. My personal favorite is the CPU and memory usage display; it is extremely useful for a tech to be able to see these things on a separate display whilst testing hardware. Another nice touch is that you can change between various presets using the remote. The number keys allow you to switch between the different display choices you set up in M-Play Home Center. Another plus is that the display is not plagued by viewing angle issues like an LCD, the display is clear and easy to read from any angle.


I played various movies and CDs using both my normal media apps and Revo and the remote performed flawlessly in all the applications I used it in. I get the feeling that even with all my testing I have only scraped the surface of what can be done with the M-Play Blast. The VFD is fairly simplistic looking by today's standards with LCDs becoming ever cheaper but what it does have is a very cool retro feel. Looking at the VFD I can't help but feel that I'm looking at a VCR display. The M-Play Blast will look perfect on a well-built media center set up with your entertainment system.


I was surprised to see just how useful an external display can be with good software powering it.

 

 


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