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264 of 268 people found the following review helpful
on October 19, 2012
As an avid consumer of technology and gadgets, I like trying newly released products. Some products such as modern smartphones are ostensible technical marvels. Others, like the Micca Speck in this review, are unassuming but warrant a closer look to see how well they perform. I've owned several different digital media players, built HTPCs with XBMC, and setup UPnP servers, so this product is familiar territory to me.

This is a very small media player, narrower and only slightly thicker than a pad of post-it sticky notes, and about as heavy. The case is made of matte black aluminum with plastic end caps. The front of the player contains a USB jack and a SD card reader slot, and the back holds the power jack, HDMI, and a 3.5mm AV jack. In all, the Speck is a simple looking player with just the essentials.

I used the Speck with my secondary TV, a 42-inch Panasonic 1080p plasma HDTV. An HDMI cable is not included with the player so I had to use my own. After plugging in the power, the main menu came up quickly after a delay of about 2 seconds, which is practically instant since modern TVs take longer than that to turn on. The default video output is 720p but the player can be set to remember to use 1080p instead. Speaking of settings, there are just a few of them in the player's setup menu for configuring the player's video, audio, and general behavior. While some may wish for more settings, I felt that the Speck's simplified configuration is ideal for its targeted casual users.

The player's menu system is reasonably intuitive and straightforward to use. Anyone who can browse for files and folders should feel immediately comfortable with it as I was. After selecting a media type from the main menu, the user can then go find what they want to play from an attached USB drive. Only media files of the selected type will be shown, so for example if you have a movie, its cover art JPG, the sound track MP3s, and a couple of subtitle files in the same folder, only the movie file will be listed, making it easier to find and play. In summary, the Speck's interface is a bit sparse, but is simple to use and is responsive without any perceived lag.

The Speck supports both USB and SD cards. I tried a variety of older USB thumb drives, SD cards of various sizes, as well as a recently purchased 1TB USB 3.0 hard drive. I did not encounter any issues with the drives. According to the manual, drives up to 2TB can be used. This means I can literally have my entire media library on a portable hard drive and play it using the Speck.

The biggest question for any digital media player is how well it plays videos. I don't have every single video format claimed to be supported by the Speck in my media collection, but I ran through all of the most popular formats such as MKV, MP4, AVI, MOV, ranging from standard definition TV shows to 1080p full movies. The player exhibited no issues with MKV, including newer files with compressed headers. Both internal and external subtitles were supported. The largest MKV file I tried was about 20GB, which played with no visible skips, freezes, lags, or dropped frames. All surround sound formats were supported but output was stereo only. Support for MP4 and AVI files was also good, though these were mostly older files with legacy codecs. I tried a few full BD ISO files and to my surprise they played, but with severe frame dropping at 1080p. Lowering the player's output to 720p made the BD ISOs play smoothly. This is the equivalent of using a knife to chop firewood, so I don't fault the Speck for not playing BD ISOs smoothly at 1080p.

Visually, the video playback has all of the sharpness of 1080p, with excellent colors that are accurate and well saturated. The screen shots provided in the manufacturer's product photos accurately portray this so take a look at those if you wonder what the image quality will be like. Some of the dark scenes show gradient bands, but I've seen this in more expensive players as well. I don't know if the video compression itself is more to blame, than the player's decoder. In consideration of its low price, however, the Speck's video output can only be described as spectacular (no pun intended).

Apart from playing videos, the Speck also plays music and photo slideshows. I gave a cursory try-out of these features and found them to be acceptable given that the player's primary purpose is to play videos. Lack of features such as play lists or random shuffling the entire music library limits the usefulness of these secondary capabilities.

Taking in the Micca Speck as a whole, what it does very well is delivering the type of "it just works" usage experience to casual users. It provides the convenience of being simple to use, while packing surprisingly powerful video playback hardware. The simplified interface with limited settings encourages even advanced users to just sit back and enjoy the show. If such a media player fits with what you are looking for, I recommend that you too take a close look at the Micca Speck.
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139 of 146 people found the following review helpful
on November 15, 2012
The Micca Speck is the newest in Micca's line of low end, inexpensive media players designed for local use without a network. It is a very good player, but like most of micca's products, a few features needed to really satisfy me are missing. They are rarely mentioned in reviews, and are probably not important to the general public, but they are important to me when deciding to buy a player, so I will mention them below.

To start off, the Micca Speck is an excellent introductory media player with a small footprint and excellent features, and will probably play anything you throw at it that has been encoded using any of the recent standards. Encode in xvid, divx, or h264 with aac or ac3 audio and you should never have any problems, so long as the encoding standards are reasonable. Subtitle support is decent and will work in all cases where the file and the subtitle are separate. Its usb port is sufficient even for USB 3.0 Drives and it has excellent error recovery. After a freeze, it will generally reboot to the main menu after 10-20 seconds. It features a random playback feature that was missing from other players I have tested, and the main reason I bought this player.

In short, if the bulk of your content hails from the last few years, and you want a media player with good features, a reasonably convenient remote, then get this player. It is inexpensive and worth the price. I paid about $5 less than the current listing as of this date, but what you get is much better than anything that was available last year, for a little more cost.

This is all you need to know from this review.

For those who are a bit more particular about their needs, I will elaborate on the strengths and weaknesses of this player below. As well as the result of some of my tests on actual media, which you may find useful.

As stated, my main reason for buying this player was the addition of the random playback function. This feature may or may not be available on the other micca players, depending on whether the feature has been added to the latest firmware release.

Since most of my content is old, the random playback is great for revisiting old content when you are not on a viewing schedule, or you want to entertain young kids and they're not sure what they want to see. The downside, (I am disappointed) is that the feature can only be applied to files in the same subdirectory. You can't start playing at the root and have it bounce all over the place. This might be great for those who keep secret videos, but I have everything organized by genre. The file system is great, in that it shows the entire file name, and scrolls if the filename is too long.

I had a few files that did not work. One set of files (avi) gave "cannot play file" errors, I am not sure of their codec. Media encoded with ogg generally had problems switching audio streams, with loud clicks and snaps at worst, or a freeze at best. Sometimes it worked great, sometimes it didn't. I had one file the player recognized as being encoded at 0 khz but it worked fine. My guess is variable bitrate ogg audio will not work well in a movie.

Ogg is an old format that was around before matroska/mkv became the popular container. It was generally used in ogm files, which was great because it allowed multiple streams (pre mkv). I have not bothered to reencode these files and probably will not do so, but if you have old files with ogg or divx 3.1 or anything like that, by now some of these files may have trouble even playing on your pc properly. If your collection is old, and you are not a netflix junkie, then you may want to go with another player, which will likely still give some problems on some of those files. Even vlc does not support some of these older codecs anymore. But I digress.

Only one of the files I tested was overwhelming to the player, but considering only my higher end desktop can play it without slowdown, this is not a strike against the player. I tested a few files, even with quad audio (rare), and as long as the audio was ac3 or aac, there were zero problems with syncing, switching, or anything. It does jump back to the previous keyframe when you switch, so you might end up rewatching the last few seconds of a scene. Neither a plus or minus, it might be interesting to compare what's said in each stream. I always encode all available streams even if I don't know the language.

The player automatically adjusts to hdmi by default if you have it connected, and you can switch between av and hdmi via the remote easily. Older models required you to make the switch half blind. It wasn't difficult, but for the non techie, it could have posed a challenge.

You can enable autoplay for movies, photos, or music. I don't personally use this feature as you may have problems if there is a lot of content to scan or if some of your files are corrupted, as even the higher end player sometimes freezes because of it. Still, if your media is in good condition, you can enable this feature. The manual states that it plays objects in the root directory. I have not tested this, but you should be able to setup a picture slideshow, music, or movie playback to start automatically upon powering on. Combining it with the random feature adds some flexibility.

This player features support for mkv, rmvb, rm, and although it does not mention it, flv as well, which means you can watch those youtube videos you've downloaded via your browser. It improves on the micca mplay, which does not support all these formats, and has problems playing them back on some occasions even when it does (such as rmvb). This player is nearly on par with the mid end MPLAY-HD, which I would recommend over this player, but it may be missing the random function, and has its quirks as well, as do most media players. The speck will not list OGM files at all. Unless you have been encoding for a while, and have not converted or reencoded your media, this is very unlikely to affect the vast majority of users. If you use handbrake or a similar tool, it will likely convert to m4v or mkv and use either dts, ac3, or aac audio, none of which ever gave any problems with the files tested.

Subtitles:

In some cases, subtitles did not show, probably related to the encoding process. Both sets of files with this error had ogg audio. Quite possibly, the subtitle embedding method may be related to the issue. Curiously, I had some old avis with an experimental method of embedding subtitles and they worked, no problem.

Speed/Seeking:

One thing that may worry the new customer. It can take up to 15 seconds to start up. It does not feature a quick splash screen while you wait. The first thing you will see is the main menu after a wait. Not a big deal, but it did cause me to doubt whether it was working or whether something was not properly connected.

It plays at 1x speed with audio only which is not surprising. It is probably better to forward at 2x than 1.5x since the keyframes do not seem to update when you seek at the latter. To resume playback, there is a little button for pausing/playing. Though hard to find, it is an improvement over the older system which required you to quickly scroll your way back to 1x speed. The goto function works well enough. Only had one file where it didn't work, again due to encoding standards. One feature which is lacking, is that there is no faster way to scroll through content other than the down or up button. Other players let you page through the content with the next and previous buttons, but this feature is not included in the speck. Still, not too bad.

The remote control is pretty good. Not as good as the higher end models, but definitely an improvement. You can switch display types, switch streams, change repeat method, and perform other actions without ever needing to go to the setup screen or access the OSD. Pressing ok while playing gives codec and encoding info (sometimes wrong), and the exit button allows you to cancel or go to the previous screen.

I have bought several micca players over the last year, and have been satisfied with all of them. The higher end models aren't powerful enough to justify the added expense and the lower end ones are too simple. I would recommend this as an introductory player for someone who doesn't need any bells or whistles, and who has access to a significant amount of local content. This will play what your netbook may not. It will not however, rival an htpc or even the playback functions available through free players on your pc such as VLC, GOM Player, or The KMPlayer.

The most important features for me are:

1) File compatibility. I keep alot of media in alot of different formats. Compatibility for this player is very good, but compatibility for the MPlay HD is even better.

2) Playback with audio at 1.5 or 2.x. Unless I have guests, I do all personal viewing at above 2.x if possible, even on youtube. I use a combination of free and paid software. This does not play at anything other than 1x with sound. The Mplay HD does play most content at 1.5 or 2.x with sound (has trouble with 2+ variable bitrate streams on occasion). So it gets the vote for this feature.

3) Random function. Kind of important. I rarely watch offline media anymore, but when I do, I don't want to be kept busy managing my content. It's easiest on a pc, but a mediaplayer with a random function is almost as good as a randomized playlist. This player does its job well enough. This was not available in the Mplay HD. There is a newer firmware for the device, but no file detailing changes. This could just be something they threw in, and not a sign of things to come.

4) A good OSD. I don't care about artwork, or any of that, but a quick preview of what you are about to watch is nice. The speck features a functional file list, so no complaints. That is all I need. However, when I have guests, a quick preview is great. The MPLAY-HD has a pretty good one.

So far I have not been able to find anything as good as vlc running a random playlist. Until the day when media players have 3-4x playback with audio, playlist, and random playback, plus accellerated streaming/playback of online content, these players will remain a nice diversion from PC playback. Even so, they are leaps and bounds over what was available until recent years.

The chipset of the Speck is not advertised, but it is likely pre 1055. All micca players use the realtek chipset. Also chipsets of the same generation generally perform very similar. Get this product, if it looks like it will need your basic needs. Otherwise I would recommend the MPlay HD. Their other players with the 1185 chipset, are basically like 1055s with online capability and extra memory. The 1186 chipset mainly adds 3d support. Playback compatibility (#1) will feature minimum improvements at best, due to the increased memory, but almost everything will work exactly the same as older products. At the original time of purchase, online functions were too buggy to satisfy, so I recommend either this product or the Mplay HD as the best bang for your buck. Then again, if you use netflix or hulu, you might want to reconsider. I personally would just buy a different player for each purpose, say the Roku. I am not fond of the Sigma chipset since it omits some important file formats, but the average user is unlikely to be affected. Consider trying out the WDTV or similar products if that meets your needs. I however, will continue to hover around realtek based products until something better comes along.

Hope this helps someone make an educated purchase decision. Specifics are generally lacking from these reviews, which makes it harder to know what you're getting.
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52 of 57 people found the following review helpful
on October 20, 2012
I was skeptical at first, but after an hour of throwing everything at it, I must say this is quite an amazing piece of equipment for the price. I bought this as a replacement for a media center notebook that could hardly handle SD content playback. So far all types of files I've tested have played back perfectly.

The description doesn't state it but it also handles AC3 and DTS audio playback. Also the case is aluminum and not plastic. Huge pluses in my opinion.

The only negative is an HDMI cable is not included, but for the product price a quick trip to the store for a cheap cable wasn't a problem.

Overall one of the best purchases I've made so far. I'd recommend this to anyone looking for a media player that will play almost everything below full Bluray.
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48 of 55 people found the following review helpful
on April 24, 2013
Good, solid and small media player. Bought mine back in January and it's still working fine.

Pros:
1.- Support a lot of containers and of course a lot of codecs. You can play most files with it without any problems.
2.- No freezes when playing your videos, no lags, no worries there.
3.- Runs cool, it never gets hot, this is important because other media players have this problem.
4.- Small form factor, you can carry it everywhere.

Cons:
1.- Cannot play 10-bit encode files. This can be a real downside for some, not for me, but 10-bit is more and more common and soon it may be "everywhere". If you found some video that cannot be played with this player (and you only get sound) it's 10-bit encode for sure, your only option: re-encode the video to 8-bit. If you have a lot of files using 10-bit encoding, you should look elsewhere.
2.- This unit cannot handle multiple subtitles well, it doesn't matter what scheme do I use when naming subtitles it will not load more than one, for me this is not big deal but still...

Other points to consider:
1.- Remote can be better, but you will get used to it.
2.- Ac adapter is cheap
3.- No hdmi cable

If you have a lot of movies/videos and want to watch them in your TV, if you travel a lot and want to watch your movies in that "never like home" hotel without having to carry your laptop, if you have a lot of pictures and want to show them to your friends in your next family reunion, then this player is for you. Don't get this player if:
a) Your files are 10-bit encodes.
b) You want to stream video or want to bring Internet to your TV (no wifi on this)
c) You need multiple subtitles (take this with some care, ask someone else just in case)

Items that I bought together with this player:
a) Patriot Supersonic Rage 32gb (PEF32GSRUSB) -> Fast, reliable drive.
b) AmazonBasics High-Speed hdmi cable.

Hope this helps! :)
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
i had just purchased Philips 26PFL4507 26-Inch 60Hz LED TV that came with usb because i store much of videos on usb drives only to get tv and find it only supports videos encoded with low motion mjpeg and at horrible video resolution which defeats purpose of hdmi hdtv. any how i came across this device by accident as i was viewing amazon pages to see what else i could spend money on. its smaller than a pack of cigarettes. quick read the instructions and in 5 minutes had my usb videos plugged into the device and on the tv. what a great item. and for anyone who still has analog tv with rca inputs this would be great. very happy/

have had it couple of days and really love this little box. i have been able to play mkv avi xvid with audio ac3, pcm,mp3.
i can put subtitle on usb and movie and both play dont need to hard sub the videos anymore. love it
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40 of 48 people found the following review helpful
on December 20, 2012
Excellent product! This one plays all my videos - every format and bitrate natively. Even handles fast forward / reverse with ease. The remote is well thought out and has good tactile buttons, unlike other brands I've had. Very minor nit: wish the remote was back lite.

Update: Died 6 months later. Started rebooting every few seconds, now it won't even power on. Warranty is only 90 days, so looks like I'm screwed. Will not buy Micca products again.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
on May 3, 2013
The Micca Speck is small. Really small. All I needed was to plug in the power source, plug in my 1TB portable hard drive, and hook up an HDMI cable. I was in business within minutes, and I was excitedly watching my movies on my big TV.

The great thing about the Speck is that it eliminates the need for burning anything to a disc. It makes DVD/BluRay players totally outdated for me personally. If you've got an awesome surround sound system, then your music can come to life in your living room. If you have family photos that you love, then you can turn your big TV into a digital photo "frame" for parties and big events.

I bought the Speck for watching movies, and I wanted High Definition compatibility. The Speck offers the absolute best value for doing this and many more things. It is smaller, cheaper, and the same quality as its Western Digital counterparts. This is a great piece of home entertainment equipment that I recommend to everyone--from geeks to grandparents.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
I get a lot of use out of this little box and I'm enjoying it immensely! I understand the complaints from the others that the remote isn't the most user friendly in the world, given that you have to aim it just right in order for it to work, but I think it's a tiny inconvenience so that's why I still gave it 5 stars. I just have to remember to aim the remote directly at the device. I don't have cable tv so for $ I think this little box is well worth the money. This is the 4th (if I include the Amazon Fire TV I also have right now) digital media player I've had, but unlike the other 3 there isn't a file that I've put in it that it hasn't played. So I'm extremely happy with that! With the others, there were certain files each device refused to play, and often the file that was in there had no sound, etc. I haven't had those kinds of problem with this player at all. No it's not the fanciest device in the world, but it's exactly what I needed!
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on November 13, 2012
First, the drawback (for me): setup.

Yeah, it should seem like there isn't any. But my TV absolutely refused to recognize it when connected via HDMI at first - I tried using the Speck's remote to set the right input and everything. My workaround: connect via the supplied analog cable, set the device's menu to "off" for auto HDMI detection, then press HDMI on the remote again and wait for the signal to disappear, verifying that it was now manually set to HDMI. Plugged it back in that way...success!

Once it was up and running, I was very pleasantly surprised to see that it supports something not listed in any manuals or this website: ExFat formatted harddrives! Yes, for those who you who have both Macs and PCs at home and use ExFat to avoid the 4gb file size limit of FAT32 and the read-only limit of NTFS on Macs...this device will read your ExFat partitions. I was all set to do a whole bunch of shuffling around and had prepared to have to very carefully manage my files in order to work with the Speck, but now I'm in the clear!

Also: this thing is tiny. I mean, it should be fairly obvious from the picture (you know how big a USB port is, so you should have a sense of scale), but it was still surprising when I actually unboxed it. IF it holds up physically, this will be a wonderful tool for traveling, as it'll make hotel rooms and tour buses much less cluttered.

One star off for the setup frustration and the exclusion of two AAA batteries for the remote, without which the device cannot be used. Thankfully, I had another remote nearby that I could steal from, otherwise this would have meant a separate shopping trip just to be able to turn the thing on and test it out. Would it really add that much more to the cost to put in two cheap batteries to at least get you started?

Overall though, I believe this will end up being a great purchase, if it withstands the test of time.
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14 of 17 people found the following review helpful
on March 12, 2013
This little guy is great! I have it hooked up to an old school TV using the provided RCA standard plugs and even this way the picture is very nice, Equal to a DVD player on the TV. I'm using a 500GB external USB hard drive to store the media on. It does have the option to Play/Pause, Fast forward, Rewind, and change the screen size, (which is kick butt for wide screen formats). Very simple to use! It keeps the folder arrangement that you make on your hard drive or SD Card so you can organize it the way you want it. Say you have the TV series, "Lost" seasons 1-4, You can make a folder called Lost Season 1-4 and it will play just "Lost" in order non stop each episode of every season. When complete with the very last one, it will repeat it all over again and again till you tell it to stop. It does not stop on its own. It remembers where you last left off if you decide to go to another folder or power it off. It cycles videos by what folder you use. Great cause you can arrange all videos in one folder it will play everything, or name a folder comedy and put all your comedy movies in it and it will just play comedies, and so on. It all depends on how you want to do it. The only mild complaints I have is that the USB connector is in the front and not back (if you use a hard drive.) This means cords front and back which is a bit tacky in looks. The remote does need to direct in line with the unit for it to work. And the Menu screen is a bit distorted looking, (at least on a regular TV, may not be the case on a flat screen HDMI TV. Also note, that when I say this I'm only referring to the system menu. The Video quality of the media is very nice) .
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