Computers, Gadgets and Beyond!

Why the MX-780HD is good for MX-760HD owners (and news about the upcoming MX-800HD)

As mentioned elsewhere, the MX-780HD is basically a 760 with HDMI instead of DVI and internal SATA instead of IDE. The HDMI is useful since it passes audio along with the video over HDMI, on the 760 you were forced to pass the audio on a separate set of cables. The SATA vs IDE isn’t that much of a change, I have more old IDE drives lying about than I have SATA drives, but YMMV. Oh yeah, and they’ve changed the colour on the player from white to black. Hey, it worked for Apple.

So the interesting part about this marginally updated hardware from a 760-owner point of view is not in fact the hardware. It’s that Mvix is now forced to start a new round of bug fixing to satisfy all the new buyers of their MX-780HD player, which of course is just as buggy as the 760 since they’re practically identical inside and out. This has finally resulted in a brand new, 8 months in the making, 1.2.0 firmware update for the 760. Not too impressed by the changes yet, but I’ve yet to hook it back up to my main TV and really dive into it. Not entirely sure I’m going to either mind you.

Movement in the firmware camp at last. But that’s not all. Mvix is clearly trying to make the 780 look like a major upgrade over the 760 so they’ve forked the firmware and add more features to the 780 branch than the 760 branch. Presumably to justify the $40 price hike on the 780 compared to the 760. So what are the main differences so far? Well, primarily Internet Radio and “Internet TV”. The radio part works very well, and is nicely carried off. You basically get to browse internet radio channels as virtual files in virtual directories, and the concept works. Selecting a file in the normal way will start that radio channel after a few seconds of buffering. There are a gazillion radio channels listed in all the genres you can possibly think of. Of course they’re mostly crap but if you have a favourite internet radio channel it’s now quite possibly available on the 780. The “Internet TV” (note the subtle quotes) is another story and appears to be a testbed so far. You get 5-6 videos to choose from and they’re all streamed from Mvix themselves. A 3 minute music video of decent 640×480 resolution started out fine but quicky deteriorated into stutters and frozen video frames. Which is pretty much expected, Oslo, Norway is a long way from Seattle, WA, when streaming video and a lot can go wrong on the way.

Ah, but where does that leave 760-owners? If it were up to Mvix, stuck with the old firmware and no better off than before. However, the 2.0.x firmware for the 780 has been modified by devout hackers and you can now install the modified version on your 760. That gets you the Internet Radio and all the fixes they’ve made to this newer firmware in addition to a working telnet, ftp and http server just like the earlier 760-images. Login-name is root with no password btw. You can even downgrade to a 760 firmware if you really want to, but once you go 780 you won’t go back. Granted, the ugly purple background is a step down from the blue but everything else appear to be identical or marginally better. Grab the modified 2.0.2 for 760 firmware here.

Not tried it, but after you upgrade to this hacked firmware your 760 will believe it’s a 780, so subsequent upgrades should be with a 780 firmware. Preferrably the hacked one for the added features.

Oh yeah, the 800HD is due out soon, as confirmed by an Mvix Europe exec on their forum last night. It’s, surprise surprise, based on the newer 8634/8635 audio/video decoder chip from Sigma Designs just like the PopcornHour. This will allow it to play H.264 material, most commonly found in MKV files. It will be interesting to see if they use Syabas as their middleware coder shop as PopcornHour does or if Mvix in Korea will handle all the coding as with the 760/780. A lot of DRM involved in this new system from Sigma Designs btw so don’t expect too much community hacking on that platform initially. Can it beat the $179 PopcornHour? Not likely, but hopefully it will be substantially better than the current crop.

0 Comments to “Why the MX-780HD is good for MX-760HD owners (and news about the upcoming MX-800HD)”

  1. Mauro says:

    Hi Olav,

    Do you think that it is possible to integrate a bittorrent like ctorrent in the firmware? I hope you or the mvix community will implement it in the future…

  2. MvixUSA is about to roll out a brand new successor to the MX-760/780HD media center units. The new player will support many more formats than the old units and the code will be open-sourced!

  3. Hi Olav,

    I don’t know what to choose anymore…
    At first I was thrilled with the MX-780 options untill I saw the MX-800HD..
    iPod docking, recording tv programs
    Can I record withoud a decorder on the MX-800HD?
    Is wlan included or only with a dongle like said in the specs..

    Could you give me a tip? Should I wait for the MX-800HD to come out in Europe of go for the MX-780? Ok, there is a bit of a price difference but apart from that?


  4. Hi Khalid!
    Given their less than stellar track record for providing bugfixes for the existing Mvix-devices, I’m personally very sceptical to any new devices from them. Expecially given the fact that all new devices these days are released more or less as beta products with future firmware updates expected to cover the biggest problems. Looking at the specs released so far, it looks like a PopcornHour clone. They may have gone with a different chipset than the normal Sigma Designs one, in which case it may be interesting due to that. Depends slightly on what they mean by “releasing almost all the linux source code along with the player”. If this means that the community can create their own firmware images and improve upon the player itself, they may have a runaway winner.


  5. Hi Eric!

    The new MX-800HD is basically a PopcornHour clone with an added iPod dock, at least by looking at the specs in that PDF document you referred to. Same chipset, same features. And note that it certainly can’t record TV programs. It doesn’t have a TV tuner or a hole in the back to plug your antenna in. There is no builtin wifi, but that dongle works great. You plug it in, wait 10 seconds for it to be noticed and you get a new menu option to configure the wifi parameters.

    I’ve got a PopcornHour and a Syvio (yet another PCH clone) at home, and is very satisfied. Sure it has a few flaws here and there, but all in all it’s great for watching films and series from various storage systems in your home. Not so hot for music, as the jukebox-features are close to useless. Which I guess will be exactly the same for the 800.

    So unless you really need the iPod dock, I suggest going for a PopcornHour or one of the clones(there are about a dozen), as they offer exactly the same functionality and are available in europe at a very low price point today. Stay away from the 780, it’s yesterdays news and does not support all the increasingly common file formats like H.264.


  6. Quintin says:

    is there a way to swith off a MVIX780HD thru telnet or something?
    It is sitting next ta the plasma in the tv room, and i work from it on my pc.


  7. Can someone give me an active link for the MX780-1.2.1mod.pkg ?? Or can someone upload this file?

    For years I have had a 760HD, but it died on me. Now I bought a second hand 780HD but the sound played through the RCA connection is very bad (settings downmix and 2-channel). I hope that the 760HD firmware fixes this.


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