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My Freecom Network Mediaplayer-35 320G (Read 47549 times)
Gerrit-Jan Linker
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My Freecom Network Mediaplayer-35 320G
12.01.07 at 22:55:21
 
My Freecom Network Mediaplayer-35 320G
 
I have purchased a Mediaplayer from Freecom to be able to play movies and to show photos on my television. I also want to convert my CD collection to mp3's and play them on my HIFI set. For this purpose I have purchased the Network Mediaplayer-35 from Freecom (www.freecom.com) at Misco's website: www.misco.nl. I noticed that it is also called Media player 3, mediaplayer-3 or mediaplayer 3.5 kit.
I paid 279 euro exclusive of 19% VAT and 9.75 euro shipping costs. You can purchase the mediaplayer with a variety of hard disks. I purchased the largest disk: 320 GB. Smaller disks are only fractionally cheaper. You can also buy it as mediaplayer kit - without hard disk.
Firmware is version 1.4.6.
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« Last Edit: 25.01.07 at 21:30:49 by Gerrit-Jan Linker »  

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Re: My Freecom Network Mediaplayer-35 320G
Reply #1 - 12.01.07 at 23:02:51
 
First experiences
 
Between ordering the product and the delivery were only 3 days. Amazing. Unwrapping the box I discovered a small, smart looking little device. It is smaller than I thought it would be. It fits into a cradle which makes it stand very firmly on the table.
 
Quick start guide.
In the quick start guide there was information about fitting the hard disk. I thought it would not be applicable to me as I purchased with a disk. Apart from this info no other info was mentioned in this quide. Not a very good start...
 
On the CDROM there is a quite extensive guide. I chose to read the parts how to hook it up to the PC using USB. I plugged in the power plug and the USB plug. The large control on the front of the machine started blinking. Not very pretty... It keeps blinking as long as I connect it through USB. It cannot be powered on in this state but the hard disk can be accessed. Not very intuitive but quite usable.
 
Windows XP was quick to recognise the disk. No problems with drivers etc. Works straight away.  
On the disk I found 3 directories: audio, video, photos. I loaded various media on the disk to have a look on the television and to listen to some music on the HIFI set.
 
I connected the machine to the television. The product comes with a 3 way tulip plug: white, red, yellow. From the manual I read how to connect it to the t.v. and that was easily done. Immediately I saw the screen on the t.v. and it was intuitive enough to make me switch through the menus using the remote control. It doesn't react very well when you press the buttons quickly. It seems to only respond when you click the buttons slowly.
 
Video:
I played a few mpeg's I downloaded from the internet. They appeared to be MPEG-1 or MPEG-2 movies. With the remote control you can display the file information of a particular file. That is how I found out that it was MPEG 1 or 2.  
These movies appeared rather blurred. Not very good.  
I quickly played the sample video included on the hard disk. That displayed fine. It was a DivX movie. Another movie was which was fine too was a MPEG-4 (dr50) encrypted one.
 
Photos:
Shownig photos is ok. I loaded some family snaps and they showed fine on the television.
 
Music:
When playing music I needed to plug the same 3-way plug into my HIFI set (only white and red - yellow seems to be the video signal).  There is also a digital link to the HIFI set but my HIFI set hasn't got the digital input facility. It is a little clumsy as the yellow plug still needs to go into the television as you want to be able to navigate the menus. The mediaplayer itself does not contain a display.
 
The conclusion after my first play with the machine was that the connections to the television and HIFI should be further investigated. I called freecom for advice and after 15 minutes on hold I managed to get some advice. It is probably best to only connect to the TV with the yellow plug and to use the other two plugs to connect to the HIFI set.
 
Ugly led at the front of the machine:
When the mediaplayer is switched on the led at the front of the machine is blinking until the machine has started up. After that the led will keep shining. Very ugly.  
To switch it off I went from the main menu into the the setup options and chose to switch the LED off.
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« Last Edit: 28.01.07 at 11:09:31 by Gerrit-Jan Linker »  

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Re: My Freecom Network Mediaplayer-35 320G
Reply #2 - 14.01.07 at 12:41:29
 
Playing a DVD
 
To play a DVD on the Freecom mediaplayer it needs to be copied to the internal hard disk. Perhaps it is also possible to view a DVD across the network too - inserting it into the DVD player of the computer. I have not tried that yet.
 
I first copied the DVD to the computer using a free program called DVD Encrypter. The copy process was swift and easy. It only took 15 minutes. I copied the files onto the mediaplayer using the USB connection to the PC. All is fine however playing the DVD from the mediaplayer was not possible. The menu did not convert correctly. It was the first VOB file on the disk but there was no possibility to use the menu. Clicking to view the next file, the first part of the movie showed. However there was no sound with this clip! The second part of the movie did have sound but from another part of the movie. Not good. To make it worse, the next part of the movie I viewed hung the mediaplayer. Only switching it off and on brought it back.
 
All in all a disappointing first try to view a DVD.
 


I should have read the manual first Wink
 
To playback a DVD the mediaplayer has a built in DVD player. To play back a ripped DVD you need to select the video_ts.ifo file. Then press the menu button on the remote control and the DVD menu will display. All options on the DVD I tried worked ok. I changed the language and I could also jump to various points in the movie. Great! No sound problems either.  
 
Playing back DVD's is absolutely fine this way. Now I have to find the time to convert all my DVD's...
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« Last Edit: 17.01.07 at 16:59:45 by Gerrit-Jan Linker »  

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Re: My Freecom Network Mediaplayer-35 320G
Reply #3 - 14.01.07 at 14:59:32
 
Connecting to a PC with USB
 
To connect the Freecom mediaplayer-35 to a PC using USB is quite easy. First, connect the electricity plug and connect the USB plug to both the mediaplayer and the PC. The LED display starts blinking (why?). It continues to blink until the USB link is disconnected. It does not need to be powered up in order for it to work with USB. Pressing the power button has no effect.
 
As soon as you connect the media player using USB it is displayed in windows explorer as a new drive. The drive is called MEDIAPLAYER.
 
Transfer speed:
To copy a 777MB avi movie took 7:50 minutes. That is nearly 100 MB per minute.
 
Disconnecting:
When disconnecting the mediaplayer from the PC I do experience some problems. I normally use the safely disconnect hardware feature of windows. Selecting the mediaplayer windows says it cannot stop the mediaplayer now. Try it again later...  
Only when I wait a long long time it seems to disconnect without a warning. Usually I just disconnect it, despite the warnings.
 
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« Last Edit: 14.01.07 at 17:30:29 by Gerrit-Jan Linker »  

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Re: My Freecom Network Mediaplayer-35 320G
Reply #4 - 14.01.07 at 15:04:32
 
Playing MP3 music
 
To play MP3 music on with the Freecom mediaplayer-35 is easy. From the main menu, select music and you can pick a song to play. To play a list of songs you must select play all in the menu at the top of the file list. It is a little fiddly to get to this menu the first time. Using the right arrow it seems one can go there. I now found that there is a menu button that takes you straight there. However when the selection is on the parent folder the menu seems to be blocked.
 
It is necessary to get the MP3 files organised. Dumping a few hundred MP3's into one directory isn't going to do it as navigating through the directory using the remote control is quite slow.  
I chose the I-tunes application to sort it out for me. I added my MP3 folders on the PC to the I-tunes library. After it added all the files I selected to consolidate the library that will bring all the MP3's into a single library directory structure. It is this directory structure that I loaded into the Freecom mediaplayer. Now the music is neatly organised by artist and within that by album.
 
To load the whole media library onto the mediaplayer is a quite time consuming job. I have approximately 10 GB of music which took a couple of hours to load on. I should have used the LAN connection perhaps. That should be faster in theory. I will try the network options later.
 
I ran into a bit of a problem. There are soo many artists in my music collection that it takes a lot of time - approx. 20 seconds or more - to display the list of artists. When I open the audio directory on the hard disk it searches and searches and searches... After a far too long wait it displays the directory list - the artists list. I need to sort this out as this is not the way to do this.
 
Playing back some music today I learned that the play all option will play back all files in the current folder and in all the sub folders. That is handy. However what I am missing is a way to quickly skip a number of MP3's. When I have entered a directory for a particular artist I see the subdirectories of the various albums. Select the play all option it will start at track 1 in album 1. Now, if I want to move to album 2 I need to press next for all the MP3's in the first album to go to album 2. Perhaps I am missing a feature here... Worse is that the mediaplayer seems to have to open each MP3 before being able to skip to the next MP3...
 


I started to digitise my CD collection today. I chose to use the CDex program to "rip" them. The only setting I changed from the default is the bitrate. I set it to 320.000 bps to get the highest quality MP3 files. Further it needed an email address to access a music database.
 
Ripping a CD with CDex is as simple as pressing a button to get the titles and then pressing the button to convert the CD to MP3.  
I did experience some crashes of CDex when the file names it tried to create were not valid file names.
 
The MP3's are store by default in the My Music folder within My Documents.  
 


I found out today that you can just press the play button on the remote or the play button on the device itself to play music. However when I tried it a message was displayed that the music folder does not exist. When the mediaplayer was delivered there was an audio directory which I filled with my music. I doubted whether I should rename the audio directory to "music" but I had another good idea. My audio directory contains a lot of music. When it would auto-run these MP3's I would ever only listen to the first numbers in the directory. There is no randomiser on the device. Instead I could grab some files periodically and put them into the music directory. It works like a charm!
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« Last Edit: 10.02.07 at 21:23:32 by Gerrit-Jan Linker »  

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Re: My Freecom Network Mediaplayer-35 320G
Reply #5 - 14.01.07 at 17:00:03
 
Sources of information for the Freecom mediaplayer-35
 
I have used the following sources of information to research the Freecom Mediaplayer-35:
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« Last Edit: 14.01.07 at 17:10:14 by Gerrit-Jan Linker »  

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Re: My Freecom Network Mediaplayer-35 320G
Reply #6 - 21.01.07 at 18:08:25
 
Hard disk is slow
 
With my MP3 collection onto the hard disk I find that the hard disk is quite slow. I have MP3's from 550 different artists and to display the list of the artists it takes the freecom mediaplayer approximately 15-30 seconds. This is quite unacceptable. I don't know yet if the disk performance can be tuned.  
 
When viewing the directories on the PC with the mediaplayer connected through USB, there is no performance problem. All 500 directories are listed in a split second. I conclude that it must be the software in the mediaplayer and not the hard disk or the file allocation tables or something related to that.
 


 
I reported the above problem to Freecom's support and received the following reply 2 days later:  
Quote:

The Freecom Media Player is not so optimized for fast file-access as
Windows is. A Windows-PC has several functions (f.ex. Indices, hardwarecache,
softwarecache ...) to access files and directorie fast. The only thing you can do is to defragment the harddisk via USB.

 


Meanwhile, after I connected the mediaplayer to the network, I have tried to access a copy of these files on the network. These 500 directories show fine. Within a second they were displayed.  
 
Clearly the mediaplayer can handle this number of directories fine. Otherwise the network trial would not be so fast.  
Also, accessing the hard disk on the PC is quick. Is this because there is caching and indexing? Accessing the same info on the hard disk in the mediaplayer is slow. Is this a hard disk problem?
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« Last Edit: 28.01.07 at 11:27:29 by Gerrit-Jan Linker »  

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Re: My Freecom Network Mediaplayer-35 320G
Reply #7 - 28.01.07 at 11:02:18
 
MP3 sound quality
 
Playing some MP3 files was fine until I turned up the volume. The sound quality was terrible! It was very "flat". Very little dynamics. Not nice to listen to. Only when the volume was such that it is background music the quality seemed ok. That is disappointing! This is when playing MP3 files that were sampled below 192,000 bps.  
 
After some experimenting it seemed that when taking MP3's with a bitrate of 320.000 the sound quality is good. Having said that, turning the volume up on the mediaplayer using the remote control still gets unacceptable sound quality, even with the 320,000 bps. I learned that the volume should be kept quite low on the mediaplayer and instead the volume of the HIFI should be increased. Amplification at the HIFI set seems to be far better quality that amplification on the Freecom Mediaplayer.
 
I have connected the mediaplayer to the HIFI set through an RCA cable that came with the mediaplayer. This is a lead with on both sides 3 "tulip" plugs in the colors red, white. I have connected the red and white plugs into the HIFI set and the yellow plug into the TV.
 
I wonder what the sound quality will be like when I connect it with an optical cable to the HIFI set. Unfortunately my HIFI does not support digital connections. An optical bus is needed.
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« Last Edit: 28.01.07 at 11:08:41 by Gerrit-Jan Linker »  

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Re: My Freecom Network Mediaplayer-35 320G
Reply #8 - 28.01.07 at 11:18:56
 
Networking the Freecom media player
 
Connecting the mediaplayer to my home network as a doddle. It worked first time. Plugged it in and it worked straight away. I have a speedtouch 580 ADSL modem with built in 5 way switch and WAP (Wireless Access Point). It contains the DHCP server.
 
As soon as I switched on the mediaplayer and chose in the menu to go on the network to hunt for mediafiles I received an IP address which is displayed on the screen by the way when browsing files on the network. It listed all my computers attached to the network that has shares. I could not access some of the shares. No files showed up while there are loads of media files in them. It turned out to be privileges. My file system on my PCs is NTFS. I added some security config to allow everybody read access. That worked fine.
 
I played some MP3's and viewed digital photos. Absolutely fine. In some respects this works better than using media on the hard disk. It is much faster to access?  
I have problems browsing through my 500 directories MP3 files on the mediaplayer's hard disk. It is very slow (20-30 seconds to display the directories). However, looking at a copy of these files on the network it shows up in less than a second!
 
Some small errors: at some point the size and date field on the screen were filled with garbage characters. Not sure why that happened.
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Re: My Freecom Network Mediaplayer-35 320G
Reply #9 - 28.01.07 at 11:31:12
 
Fully networking the mediaplayer with NDAS
 
To switch on the full network capabilities you need to change the network settings on the mediaplayer. In the network section of the settings switch on NDAS support. The NDAS device ID and write key are written on a sticker at the bottom of the mediaplaer. The MAC address of the mediaplayer was visible in the network section of the mediaplayer settings section.
 
I found the NDAS drivers (version 4.10.1229) on Freecom's website at:
http://www.freecom.com/ecNewsitem.asp?ID=4761
direct link: http://www.freecom.com/objects/00005152.zip
 
After the installation (and reboot) the NDAS Device Management software can be used to register a new device. It starts a wizard. The NDAS device ID and write key need to be given. Then the device can be mounted. The new hardware wizard displayed and it installed the NDAS SCSI controller from windows update.
Completing the wizard it took a little while before the new drive appeared in windows. It appears in the list of fixed hard disks. Creating files/directories is a little sluggish but otherwise it works fine.  
 
In the first experiments copying files it seems really slow. To do a good test I have used the following setup:
 
-Cleanly booted PC 3GHz, 2GB memory of which 150MB used. Turned off virus scanner.
-10/100 wired LAN through a router to the speedtouch 580 ADSL modem/router then wired 10/100 LAN to the mediaplayer
-normal LAN throughput is excellent, often achieving over 50% LAN capacity.
 
Copying a 183MB file from the mediaplayer to the PC took 4:53 minutes while LAN usage was flat on 5% of 100 Mbps.
This is equal to 0.62 MB per second or 37 MB per minute.
 
I find this is really disappointing. Am I doing anything wrong? Can NDAS be optimised in some way?
 


The more I learn about NDAS the more disappointed I am. At the same time I purchased this mediaplayer product I also purchased a freecom network disk (see: http://www.oraxcel.com/cgi-bin/yabb2/YaBB.pl?num=1170444270). I had to get to know the NDAS software extensively to get to work with this network disk and came to the conclusion that NDAS is not working for me. I had to upgrade the NDAS drivers that came with the drive with NDAS drivers from Ximeta.com. It totally does not work with the mediaplayer. I now downgraded these drivers again having decided the network disk is not for me.  
 
Now I am trying actively to make NDAS working with the mediaplayer I am finding myself constantly fiddling with the NDAS drivers. When my PC attempts to go on standby it is prevented by the NDAS software from doing so. After that I lose connection to to the mediaplayer and have no way to revive it. It is just a shambles. Will this ever work in a stable way?
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« Last Edit: 10.02.07 at 21:59:35 by Gerrit-Jan Linker »  

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Re: My Freecom Network Mediaplayer-35 320G
Reply #10 - 02.02.07 at 20:09:03
 
Power consumption
 
Power consumption of the Freecom mediaplayer-35 is very low. Having said that, it does consume 2 Watt of power while being switched off. It is actually going on standby as with the remote control you can always switch it on. 2 Watt sounds very little however it will add an extra 365 days x 24 hours x 2 Watt = 17,520 Watt hours = 17.5 kWh to your energy bill.
 
When the mediaplayer is in operation, whether it is accessing the hard disk or not, whether it is playing a media clip or not, it is consuming 13 Watt. On bootup it peaks to about 23 Watt but only for a moment.
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Re: My Freecom Network Mediaplayer-35 320G
Reply #11 - 15.05.07 at 17:29:06
 
Two useful features I have not mentioned yet are:
  • When starting a movie file that was stopped previously, it asks whether to continue or to start from the beginning. Although there is a time search facility this is quite handy!
  • When files are placed in the music directory you can play the files using the play button on the mediaplayer itself. That is nice as you don't need to switch on the TV to browse to the music files. Even better is that it continues where it stopped previously! So if you have converted all your CDs to MP3 and have a few days worth of music on the mediaplayer you get to hear all the music and not just the first few hours of it!
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Re: My Freecom Network Mediaplayer-35 320G
Reply #12 - 03.08.07 at 16:40:15
 
I have one of these players. I think it's a super piece of equipment except for 2 things. One is probably my own issue. I can get the unit to see my PC, but I can get NDAS to work, so it's not too bad.
 
The 2nd issue is I'd like to be able to scroll through my music while songs are playing. I have to stop the current song to select the next one. Do you know if there's firmware updates that allow me to do that?
JF
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Re: My Freecom Network Mediaplayer-35 320G
Reply #13 - 04.08.07 at 00:34:10
 
My experience with the NDAS is that in a 1 PC to mediaplayer connection you will get it to work reasonably reliable. It does require some messing with services I recall. After installing NDAS go to your system hardware and update the drivers for the NDAS drive. That did it for me.
 
As far as scrolling during the play of files, I can scroll using the remote control pressing the up or down button while another file is playing. However I need to stop the previous file before a new file can be played.
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« Last Edit: 07.08.07 at 10:26:05 by Gerrit-Jan Linker »  

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Re: My Freecom Network Mediaplayer-35 320G
Reply #14 - 07.08.07 at 14:37:56
 
Gerrit,
If you do an "All play" with the music you can't move out of the current folder to the next to browse. Do you know if anyone has played around with the firmware to allow you to browse?  
JF
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