Top positive review
3 people found this helpful
It's Near Perfect, Especially For The Price!
on December 28, 2014
WOW, I LOVE this little unit! Cannot say enough about this little digital player which I got for just $29.95 here at Amazon!! It does have a couple small quirks, but for the price point and value, it's tops!
This little thing is SO HANDY as CDs and DVDs are so bothersome. Before getting this when I wanted to watch something on my computer on the TV, I had to connect the laptop via VGA, as my laptop doesn't have HDMI. Not only is the max resolution of VGA 600x800, but it's a hassle connecting the laptop to the TV, and it puts the laptop out of commission. Now when I want to watch something I can put it on a USB stick and watch it in HD on the TV in no longer than it takes to switch the input and navigate to the file! And the unit is small enough to leave plugged in all the time.
The reason I picked this one over other similar devices is that I read many Amazon reviews for the others, and this one seems to be the one that will read just about any movie file. Reviewers for another popular brand (Micca Speck) that bought the IMP150 too said it plays certain h.264 files the Micca cannot handle. One reviewer had to reformat some of his movie files to play on the Micca, but not so with this one. That's what sold me on the IMP150.
The player was smaller than expected, about the size of a 15-stick pack of gum, which I was happy about. And thanks to another reviewer who raved about this unit but reported the USB port broke too soon, he suggested getting a female/male USB adapter to plug into it. That way you only have to plug something into the USB port once, and from then on, you plug your USB stick into the adapter instead. I followed this advice.
Plus some people complained the remote had to be pointed exactly at the unit, but another reviewer fixed this as well. He noticed the hole in the faceplate for the IR was offset from the detector behind it. He removed the faceplate (which is aluminum and held on by two small screws), and he drilled out the IR hole to be slightly larger. I did the same and now the remote works great!! (This will void your warranty, so if worried about returning it, maybe wait 30 days before doing that.)
The unit itself looks well made (despite the prior report of a weak USB port) and very cool.... I was really impressed just taking it out of the box. It is small but has some heft too. Nice packaging to boot. Then what really blew me away was the remote! (Requires 2 - AAA batteries.) I was expecting very basic functions like 4 buttons that allowed the rudimentary essentials. Not so! This remote has little icons on the buttons that match the software interface for easy navigation. It's so nicely laid out with the "return" button placed right next to the navigation arrows, etc. And it has every kind of function needed, but is so intuitive it's the exact OPPOSITE of most remotes where you think to yourself... god, another remote to learn! Only thing is the Play/Pause button is small, but still... for the price.
Also, the sign of a well designed product is that it is intuitive enough to use without looking at the manual. The product does include one, but the font was so small and the unit was so well designed that I didn't bother with the manual. Just plugged it in, connected the HDMI cable I bought from Amazon (it comes with composite/RCA cables), and connected the USB stick.
As soon as I switched the TV input to HDMI4 where the unit was connected, I got a nice menu screen with 5 icons for navigation... Files, Movies, Music, Photos, Settings. If you've never owned one of these, a little tip... if you select any folder but Settings it takes you to the USB/flash card storage device BUT it will only show the file type of the folder you selected. For example, if you select Photos, it only shows photo formats and hides all other files. If you select Movies it only shows movie files, etc. If you select the Files folder it shows ALL files, regardless of format.
This is good to know as you might think the device has failed if 'half your files aren't showing'... when really it's because you are in a specific mode. To see ALL files at any time, press the File icon button on the remote. OR... if you want to see Movie files, press the Movie button on the remote... same with Music or Photos.
I first selected Settings and went through each one... it is set by default to 720p but I have a 1080p TV so I changed that setting. Also had a couple nice features I was surprised to see, like a screen saver handy for plasma sets that can burn in (set to 2 minutes by default, which I turned to OFF since I have an LCD TV), and a timer so you can, for example, set it to play music or a movie and shut off after x-amount of time, handy for people who like to fall asleep to the TV or to music. I set this to off as well. On Auto Play I chose MUSIC so it would play one file after the next instead of stopping after each song. You can choose this for Movies too, but I didn't, however I was happy to find when I watched a movie that was in two parts, it automatically went from Part 1 to Part 2 without my having to do anything.
The settings menu had everything you need and nothing you don't, and it was again laid out superbly. Probably the best product I have ever purchased for pure value and design (@ $29.95)!
I then navigated to the File icon and you can choose between SDCard or the USB icon... went into the drive and navigated to the file I wanted to play, an HD .avi movie. It worked PERFECTLY. And again the remote was GREAT. It even has volume buttons... as long as the main volume on the TV is up, you can then manipulate the level up or down with the remote AND it even has a MUTE button. Also FF and RW, of course, NEXT, PREV and even a 16:9 button... and more.
Using the FF and RW buttons on the remote, repeated presses increases the speed, though there is a bit of a lag in responsiveness, but more than acceptable for its class and price point imo. Also when you press PAUSE during a movie there is no indication of how far along you are or how much time is left. A small thing, but missing nonetheless. On the plus side if you stop a movie and come back to it later, when you select the movie file to play a popup asks if you want to resume where you left off. Very nice!
I did end up grabbing a magnifying glass and reading the manual just to see if there was anything I was missing... and it's worth the read to see the extra little features. For example when playing music if you press the EQ button on the remote it cycles through pre-set EQs... as it switches to a new EQ mode you can hear the change in the audio, plus the EQ icon on the playback screen changes to match the active mode (i.e. a sax for Jazz, a profile and mic for Vocal, a violin for Classical... etc).
Which brings up the very colorful and nice looking music playback screen. A nice, fat progress bar with current time and total time of song, all the necessary controls needed, meta data displayed at left of title, artist, album, genre, and an animated EQ readout at right. Pressing the >>| will take you to the next song and same with |<< to the previous song. There is also a Repeat button, and it has different modes too that toggle with each press: e.g. to repeat once, loop, to play the song then stop (even if in Auto Play), or to shuffle (random mode). These toggled features of the Repeat button are not documented in the manual. But the icon for the Repeat feature changes on the playback status bar with each different mode, just like the EQ icon changes. Shuffle is the icon with two separate lines that intersect and both point right.
But what I really like is it plays FLAC (lossless music). So you can listen to high quality music though your entertainment center or stereo speakers... you aren't limited to compressed MP3 or AAC files. This completely frees you from CDs or a turntable!
While a song is playing if you hit the Return button on the remote ("Previous screen") it takes you back to the song/file list while the song continues to play, so you can peruse the files if you want to listen to a particular song next, and not necessarily the next one in line.
When a file is selected if you press the OSD button on the remote you have the option to copy, move or delete files. I tried deleting a movie I'd watched and it hung the software. I powered down and back up and the file was gone, but in trying again later, the same thing happened, so I will not use that feature. (Easy enough to do all that on the computer anyway.) I did not try to move files from the USB mem stick to a flash card, as I am not using a flash card.
Another GREAT feature it has it that when watching a movie with subtitles you can press the OSD button and choose to make the subtitle text larger, or even change its color or placement. (This assumes the movie file is made with a proper subtext file and not hard-coded into the movie file ... if you cannot turn the subtitles off, it's not a proper subtext file.)
Another feature I learned from the manual but have not tried... if you put photos on you can select from different transitions to make a slide show. Like sliding away, or UP or whatever. You can also choose to have background music with the slide show... this could be used for all kinds of things... parties, weddings, even work functions or presentations.
The unit does have an unusually bright blue LED light which stays on when it's powered up. I cut up a piece of blue painter's tape to make a "tab" several layers thick which I stuck over it to mute it. It still shines through so I can see it's on, but it's no longer distracting.
I was so thrilled with this unit that as soon as I tried it out I immediately ordered another one for the TV in the other room, along with another HDMI cable ($5+ for 6' gold-plated cable) and a second male/female USB adapter (couple of bucks). I also got another dedicated Lexar 32GB USB 3.0 stick for it, just $9.99 (sale), all from Amazon... which added up to about $48 and that meant free shipping.
One final thing, some units do seem to have an intermittent bug where when powering up with the remote, the unit immediately powers down. Usually repeated tries successfully power up, (which is not acceptable imo), OR, if you unplug the AC cord at the back of the unit, then plug it back in, it powers up immediately every time (a hassle so also not acceptable imo). But once powered up, it ALWAYS works GREAT.
So if needed, the workaround is either A> Leave it powered up 24/7 as it draws almost no juice, or B> plug it into a power strip with an off/on switch and shut off the power strip every night before bed, then turn it on in the morning (re-supplying power to the unit will make it turn on automatically, just like unplugging/re-plugging it in), or C> Use a remote RF outlet switch to turn it off and on. In the latter case the AC plug of the unit would plug into the RF outlet, which is controlled by its own remote. When you turn the RF off, it cuts all power to the outlet, powering down whatever is plugged into it. When you turn it back on, it supplies power, so it's the same as unplugging and plugging back in the unit, but you don't have to get up. (Same idea as the power strip but with a remote.)
Bottom line, if you want to watch movies, play high quality music (or MP3, AAC, etc), and look at photos on your TV, this little gizmo is King. It's not perfect, but it's so good at what it does and was so inexpensive, it's one of my favorite buys of all time. I would not trade this player for another with fewer 'quirks' that nevertheless cannot play all movie files... I do NOT want to have to reformat movies or worry about how they're encoded or framed or compiled... I would MUCH rather get an RF switch or leave the unit on 24/7 and have something that easily and consistently plays all my movie files. I could not be happier with my two IMP150 players!