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January 26, 2003
Chyang Fun E-Note

January 4, 2003
Lian Li PC-402A

November 4, 2002
Netbox Cubit

October 24, 2002
EPIA-M Preview

October 12, 2002
Jetway B860T

October 9, 2002
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October 3, 2002
Morex Cubid 2688R

August 17, 2002
Morex Cubid 2677R

August 9, 2002
G-Alantic 610i

EPIA-M Preview - Video Playback
Posted on October 24, 2002

DVD Playback

This is what why 99% of people will be reading this article. The DVD playback on the current EPIAs is of high visual quality, but can occasionally jerk during playback. You get the impression that a few extra Mhz or a little nudge would be enough to remedy this - leaner systems (switch off those non-essential services) definitely perform better. The EPIA-M provides that little nudge - playback on the EPIA-M was perfect, as good as any high quality software or hardware decoder on the market today (such as the XCard)

EPIA 800 - DVD Playback

Pre-Production EPIA-M - DVD Playback

EPIA 800 and XCard - DVD Playback

DivX Playback (low bandwidth)

DivX files are usually either what we will term 'low' or 'high' bandwidth. High bandwidth content typically fits on 1 or 2 CDs, run to a couple of hours and is encoded at (for instance) 720x384 pixels. Low bandwidth content typically is 100MB in size, 30 minutes long and is encoded at (for instance) 352x240 pixels. We tested both kinds, starting with low bandwidth.

This was the one surprising result - The EPIA-M made heavier work of the low-bandwidth DivX than the EPIA 800, and struggled with the high-bandwidth file in the same way that the EPIA 800 did. All systems played back the low-bandwidth file without skipping frames, but only the XCard could play high-bandwidth DivX content in a viewable fashion. It's a shame that the XCard is so picky with content (it won't currently play DivX 3 files, or certain flavours of Divx 5).

As the CPUs of the test machines are so similar, we would suggest you take the EPIA-M result with a small pinch of salt - there may be software or even BIOS issues at work here, that could be resolved in production models. But DivX content IS a real CPU cruncher - the encoding is so tight that quite some power is needed to unmunge it quickly enough to screen. We hope some of that work can be off-loaded to the CLE266 somehow. We'll have a fiddle and see if we can tweak the EPIA-M into some better results (after all, we've had the EPIA 800 for months, and the M for a matter of hours). Stay posted for the next exciting installment!

EPIA 800 - low bandwidth DivX Playback

Pre-Production EPIA-M - low bandwidth DivX Playback

EPIA 800 and XCard - low bandwidth DivX Playback

DivX Playback (high bandwidth)

EPIA 800 - high bandwidth DivX Playback

Pre-Production EPIA-M - high bandwidth DivX Playback

EPIA 800 and XCard - high bandwidth DivX Playback

EPIA-M Mini-Galleryette

Here are some pictures of our pre-production EPIA-M. Don't ask us to photograph the underside - it's packed back in its case now.

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