The Crystal Acoustics MediaMatchBox is a titchy file player that can be hooked up to any TV via HDMI. It's aimed at those who want to upgrade their existing sets for multimedia playback, as well as folks who want a portable file reader. You can pick it up for around £55.
Measuring just 54 by 84 by 16mm, the MediaMatchBox is barely bigger than the credit-card-sized remote it ships with. You don't actually need the remote zapper when you take the MediaMatchBox on your travels, as it has simple navigational keys built into the underside. The unit itself is finished in a pleasing glossy plastic.
Although it may be small, the MediaMatchBox's file compatibility is impressive. Indeed, this unit played everything we threw at it, including some oddball stuff that has consistently defeated other devices. It thundered happily through AVI, WMV, MPEG, FLV, TS, MKV and Xvid files. It also offers full subtitle support, complete with adjustable position, colour and text-size options.
Audio playback is equally comprehensive. In addition to MP3 and AAC, the unit sung along with APE, FLAC, OGG, WAV and WMA tracks. It's a veritable United Nations for downloads.
Heck, it even plays DVD-ISOs and BD-ISOs with DTS-HD Master Audio and Dolby TrueHD compliancy. Just choose 'raw' in the audio menus to output the relevant bit stream if you don't want PCM (there's also an option to downmix to plain old stereo). The video output is variable up to 1080p/24.
Digital still image support covers JPEG, BMP, PNG and GIF files. There's the standard provision for slide shows with music.
Powering the MediaMatchBox is the increasingly popular Realtek 1055 chipset. This is an extremely adept chunk of decoding silicon, derived from the earlier Realtek 1073. The big difference between the two is that the 1055 doesn't support network functionality or interfaces like eSATA. This explains why there's just an SD card slot and USB port built into the box.
The MediaMatchBox is one of a growing number of media players that have come to market utilising this chipset, and its popularity seems well founded.
Image quality is excellent. The Blu-ray ISO of Sintel, an open-source computer-graphics fantasy animation created using Blender and released under a Creative Commons licence, looks beautiful via the MediaMatchBox, with crisp detail and vibrant, well-gradated colour.
The user interface is the default from Realtek, but it looks crisp and sophisticated when output at 1080p. There are individual buttons for music, movies, photos, and general settings. During playback you can also make adjustments to brightness, saturation, hue and contrast, as well as zoom in on the video image itself or call up file data.
Should you need it, a night mode offers dynamic range compression to level off sonic peaks for late-night listening. You can also compile music playlists.
While it lacks network capability (that would have been the icing on a rather delicious media cake), you can plug a fair number of devices into the MediaMatchBox, including external USB hard drives (in FAT32, NTFS and HFS+ flavours), USB sticks and SD cards.
The MediaMatchBox performs a scan of anything new that comes its way, populating the appropriate search button. Sometimes nested items don't appear, but they can be located by using the file-management tool.
The unit runs reasonably warm after several hours of use. Its Realtek processor has a reputation for overheating, but that doesn't seem to be a problem here.
Crystal Acoustics' MediaMatchBox ticks all the boxes if you're looking for a pint-sized media player. It performs well and has very few peers when it comes to compatibility. While it's not particularly cheap, it does come with a two-year warranty and its performance is top-notch.
Edited by Charles Kloet