UEBO M100 Review (Page 2 of 4)

Page 2 - A Closer Look - Hardware

The UEBO M100 is a fairly small sized media player. Since this media player is marketed as a portable device, UEBO has made sure the M100 can fit into all bags for traveling, and can be easily used in your home, office, or even car without much of an issue. The unit measures approximately in at 14cm in length, 8cm in width, and 2cm in height. It weighs in at 230g, which is very reasonable. The majority of the unit is silver in color, except for one end of the unit, which is black. The silver brushed aluminum is definitely an aesthetically pleasing color and material of choice for this unit, and will blend nicely with the surroundings of your home theater setup. The shape of the unit also plays a role in the overall function of the unit. The rounded edges, smaller measurements around the width, and the elongated body make this unit very sleek making it more manageable for tighter spaces during use and/or travel. Unlike other media players that hold 2.5" internal HDDs, the UEBO M100 is probably one of the smallest ones out there, just to fulfill the purpose of being more portable.

The front connections are straightforward. Starting from the right, we have a USB 2.0 port to connect external USB 2.0 storage drives. In the middle is an SDHC memory card slot. Lastly, to the left are two buttons. The first one is a power button, and the second is a one touch copy feature. The one touch copy feature is simply brilliant. Since the UEBO M100 is such a portable media player, one may think it lacks the ability to hold its ground as a long term non-portable media player. The one touch copy feature, however, makes sure the M100 is also efficient when not being moved. Using the USB 2.0 host port or SDHC card slot, one can back up all the files from one drive onto the internal hard drive installed into the M100. This makes file transfers from your computer quite efficient. When in use, a blue hard drive and power LED will light up to the left of the USB port.

The back side is quite a bit different from the front. From the right, we have the DC input connection for power. Next would be the A/V out for composite video and audio for traditional television sets. For the 1080p playback, the HDMI labeled connector -- located next in line -- would be the one to choose (No HDMI cable is included, however). Lastly, for the UEBO M100 to connect straight to your computer system, you would use the last connection port -- USB 3.0. That's right, USB 3.0. The UEBO M100 is one of the few media devices out there that supports the new interface for faster file transfers, which is a nice feature to have. As for its cooling solution, the brushed aluminum casing will act as a passive heatsink for the entire device. Notably missing is S/PDIF coaxial and optical out, so you cannot connect your M100 directly to your audio receiver.

Accompanying the UEBO M100 is a small remote control. It is identical to the one that comes with the UEBO M50. While it is not as fully featured like most remote controls, it will accommodate the M100 well enough because of its small size. The layout of the remote is fairly conventional, with a circle of navigation arrow buttons near the top, and an 'Enter' button in the middle. Although the remote being small is a good thing, I would have liked for it to be a little heavier. Such a light remote can sometimes be a hassle to navigate, especially when pressing a button may sometimes flip over the entire remote out of your hands. This could be due to the lack of quality in the material. Other than this small issue, the remote was very easy and straightforward to use, as it did not require one to read the user's manual to operate. In terms of the synchronization between the remote and the UEBO M100, there can definitely be improvement. In order for the M100 to respond to the remote, the remote has to be pointed directly at the unit, which can be a hassle. Especially since the M100 is fairly small and hard to spot in the dark when viewing videos, pausing a movie may very well become a trial and error process.

Taking apart the UEBO M100 was a simple task. The metal casing is split into two separate pieces placed together and mounted in place by the two end pieces. In order to open up the media player, one needs to unscrew the four screws, take apart the first plastic piece, and split open the aluminum shell. Please be advised that in order to remove the screws, one will need to be equipped with a fairly small screwdriver. Inside, you will find a large PCB plate, resting snugly onto a plastic tray (PCB facing towards the inside of the tray). On top the printed circuit board, one will be able to plug in a 2.5" laptop HDD or SSD. The tray includes a foam material that will touch the back end of the HDD to dampen vibrations. On the inside of the plastic tray, as well as on the inside of the top aluminum shell, one will find a sticky silicone material that will further help dampen vibrations as well as improve overall protection.

Some components you may be interested in knowing what's inside includes Nanya's 1026 NT5TU64M16GG-AC DDR2 chip that provides 1GB of onboard RAM. The SD/SDHC/MMC flash card reader is driven by the Genesys Logic GL827L IC, which is generally considered a smart choice uses a simplified PCB layout. The USB 2.0 hub uses a Genesys Logic GL850G USB hub controller. Lastly, the UEBO M100 packs a Realtek 1055DD processor. If you haven't noticed, the UEBO M100 more or less uses many of the same components seen in its smaller brother, the UEBO M50. These components are well regarded as fairly power efficient, and are known to keep PCB layouts relatively simple too. In this area, it seems UEBO has chosen the right components to do the job.

Installation of the UEBO M100 was unfortunately not the easiest of installations I have gone through. When installing an internal hard drive into the media player, one must make sure to install an empty drive, since the M100 will automatically reformat the drive regardless of anything. This step alone was not very convenient for me, as I had to back up all my files from my hard drive before it was reformatted by the M100. When the UEBO M100 reformats the drive, it will create a ".Theater" folder, but more on this later. Be advised that in order to install a HDD into the player, you will have to do it when plugged into the TV; it will not install and reformat the drive when plugged into your computer -- another inconvenience. Other than this step, the M100 is fairly simple. Since there really aren’t that many connection options for the unit, the average user should not have an issue. To take advantage of the 1080p playback ability, one will need to utilize the HDMI input. However, the M100 does not provide a HDMI 1.3 cable, so you will need your own as aforementioned.

In terms of wireless, the UEBO M100 does not have such capabilities out of the box. But you can plug a compatible wireless USB adapter to utilize its wireless function. Unfortunately, in this area, the UEBO M100 also lacks. Although it does support wireless USB adapters, it also means the lone USB port will be in use. In other words, you will not be able to utilize any external USB storage solutions while the USB host port is being used by your wireless adapter. I would have liked to see UEBO possibly add another USB port just for the convenience. However, I am aware that such a request would mean that the unit would most likely increase in size and in price.

Page Index
1. Introduction, Packaging, Specifications
2. A Closer Look - Hardware
3. A Closer Look - Software
4. Performance and Conclusion