On first appearance, the Masscool Media Player looks like an external hard drive. In a sense, it is, considering that it can house a 2.5″ hard drive. The enclosure itself is a gunmetal-colored, brushed aluminum. It has a few LEDs on the front, and a ton of ports on the rear. It has composite outputs, SPDIF audio output, HDMI output, USB for using it as a hard drive, two USB ports for plugging in external hard drives or card readers (one front, one back), plus a 10/100 Mbps Ethernet port. The power port rounds out the rear. Rubber feel keep the unit from sliding around.
Inside, there’s room for a 2.5″ SATA hard drive, a laptop hard drive.
I will wholeheartedly admit that I went into this review thinking that I had myself yet another disappointing media player. Sweet lords of usability, the Masscool Media Player is actually–gasp–usable.
The interface doesn’t move quite as smoothly as I’d like, but it’s certainly better than some others I’ve seen. Load times are fairly quick, even over the network.
I played back several audio tracks and watched a few movies and clips on it to get a general feel for its quality. Here’s the catch: I did it all using UPNP. Yes, that’s right, over the network from my QNAP TS-809 Pro NAS to the Masscool Media Player and to my Vizio 32″ 720P LCD HD television set. I could have installed a hard drive, used a USB mass storage device, or played back the files using Samba/Windows Networking, but UPNP is just so much more…plug and play, universally.
Quite frankly, I’m impressed. The playback is arguably better than the Xbox360’s, and certainly better than the playback of all of the other media player devices I’ve reviewed. I watched a few game trailers, plus Cloverfield, Wall-E, and Babylon A.D. and found myself wandering if I was watching HD, DVD, or some crappy downloaded file. Admittedly, my files were all 720p versions. I did try a few sections from DVD–the quality is amazing, because the media player tries its best and succeeds at upsampling the file to the resolution of my TV.
My camera doesn’t do the playback justice, and neither does my video camera.
I did find a weird problem with audio playback, though. When a track is playing, it’s impossible to see the selected track in the playlist if the selected track is the last one in the list. The “now playing” banner occludes it.