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AC Ryan FLUXX Review

Intel has seen a sudden surge in demand for its CE41xx chips in the media streaming set top box market. Boxee was the first to bring a device based on the CE4100 to the market in the Boxee Box. At CES 2011, Syabas announced that the future generation of NMTs would be based on the CE41xx series. Boxee also made its way into some CE4100 based products such as the Iomega NAS boxes and some Viewsonic TV models. In the meanwhile, A.C.Ryan also announced their Fluxx media streaming STB based on the highest end product in the CE41xx lineup, the CE4150.

The main advantage of the CE4150 over its lesser cousins is the overclocked PowerVR SGX535 graphics engine which chugs along at 400 MHz compared to the 200 MHz of the CE4100 and CE4130. In addition, it also has an AV input which the CE4100 doesn’t have.

The AV input in the CE4150 translates to a HDMI-In port on the Fluxx. This port serves two purposes. On one hand, users may opt to record the raw video coming over the link (as long as it is not HDCP protected). This, however, is not something of much interest to most users as the raw video is usually of very high bandwidth ( > 1 Gbps for 1080p30 video ) and it would take up too much disk space. That said, it does duplicate some of the functionality currently existing in products like Blackmagic Design’s Intensity Shuttle (which itself is targeted towards professional video editors). The second functionality of the HDMI-In port is similar to the feature available in the Logitech Revue (acting as a passthrough / PiP functionality). This would also make it an interesting feature for game and widget developers who can dream up more fun / functional apps.

The CE4150 is the same chip which is being used in the Logitech Revue (Google TV) box. However, the markets targeted by these two products have very little overlap. A.C.Ryan is hoping for a premium set top box experience, with more frills added to the experience provided by the PlayOn! HD series. After having looked at both the Boxee Box and the Fluxx in operation, it is evident that the premium graphics engine in the Fluxx does lead to snappier and more pleasing UI.

There are features in the Fluxx which make it a ‘social connected media player’, but, thankfully, those features can be turned off. Facebook and Twitter widgets aren’t ones I would particularly like on my media player / streamer, but I would definitely like to hear from readers as to whether it is a feature they would want. The processing power of the Atom SoC also makes it possible to have in-built scraping for media libraries and a Flash enabled web browser. Support for multiple DRM methods should make content providers happy.

Read the complete review at anandtech.

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