- Written by Ofer LaOr
- Published on 21 July 2008
Feature wise, quite a lot has been added. Not only is everything faster and more stabile, I often find features that were undocumented. For example, should you select a JPEG file in a directory that also has some music, the unit will start a slideshow using the first available audio track in that directory.
Video formats have been extended and officially support MKV (using DIVX, H264 and VC1 variants) including multi-channel audio selection and support for embedded subtitles, Blu-ray MT2S files (no subtitle support, but support for switching audio tracks), AVI (almost all variants, excluding MPEG, but including DIVX, XVID, and their HD counterparts), Quicktime (AVC), AVC content, MPEG-2 (SDTV and HDTV), WMV (including the VC1 variant), DVD (ISO and VIDEO_TS variants), and a few more formats.
What this really means is that you only have to select a file and play it back. No need for configurations or complex HTPC settings – this unit plays virtually anything.
On the audio front, not much has changed from previous generation units. The unit mainly supports MP3 and FLAC. I have not tried OGG or WMA content (sorry, I don't have any files like that). ITunes AAC files with Apple DRM will definitely not work.
Live radio is supported through shoutcast and even at 128Kbps it sounds way better than most FM radio stations in my home town. The unit shows you how much time you have been playing the audio, the artist and current song name (although the number of characters is strangely limited), while the VFD shows you play time only. After a while, the unit will drop to screen saver mode, which is quite helpful when playing audio while the display is still on.
Playback is virtually flawless on almost all the content I have tried. The unit supports icon view mode, which (using programs like Guy Kuo's Movie GUI Builder) can let you create a jukebox display consisting of movie title icons and synopsis backgrounds). This Icon Mode is not stable in some firmware versions, so it's best to test this out carefully before using.
Subtitle support has been overhauled and can now support several languages and you can even choose your own preference of subtitle fonts (just click OK on any TTF file and everything starts using that specific font, probably best to keep this in the internal hard drive, though). Playing back movies late at night is much clearer with subtitle support and I get yelled at less when I use them. Other than the built-in MKV subtitles (AVI and MT2S built-in subtitles still unsupported), external SRT and SUB/IDX files are supported and work quite well.
In situations where you don't want to use a computer to copy and move files on or off the internal hard drive, the unit provides you with the ability to copy files back and forth from the unit's drive onto the network or to the external USB drives. Delete is only supported on the local drive.
The unit provides useful information about the playing title, and repeated clicks on the info button lets you see how long you have been playing the movie and how long you still have left.
The unit also has repeat features, for playing back content repeatedly (more useful for shop owners than for normal people's living rooms). Note that if you have several titles in one directory, they will typically play back one after another. To prevent accidental playback of inappropriate content by the kids, the 6500 provides you with a way to create numeric passwords for directories on the local hard drive as well as over the network. I have found this to be extremely useful for obvious reasons.
The main features I'm missing with the unit is Blu-ray oriented. I would like to see Blu-ray menus, subtitles, and the rest of the Blu-ray features fully implemented.