After a few more hours of messing around with our TV and the sound system, I finally got the MediaGate hooked up satisfactorily. That involved much messing around with cables, and a bit of trial and error with the screen sizing and resolution settings. This is not a particularly intuitive gadget.
I bought a software package from isofter.com for ripping the DVD collection. It's an easy to use package, but it refuses to allow me to rip a DivX avi image. It gets about 2 minutes through the DVD and goes up like Hiroshima. I tried ripping to a wmv format, which works, but then the gadget refuses to play that particular format.
In the end, I had to do a trial rip using about 20 combinations of settings to see:
a). whether the software could actually rip a DVD with a particular group of settings, and
b). whether the gadget would then play the image.
I have settled on using an iPod format rip, which might look great on a dinky little iPod screen, but it's not the best when viewed at 80cm across. Until I can sort out this software problem, it will have to do.
I have been able to copy about 25gb of stuff to the gadget using the USB interface. At least that is fast and easy to use. When a movie is played off the hard drive, it seems to work quite well. When I try and stream it wirelessly from my PC, it has a tendency to hang, then play the next section at quadruple speed as it bizarely tries to catch up. It might work better with Ethernet cables and a good network switch, but I am not going to be laying any cables in order to test that theory.
The verdict so far is that it is a bit disappointing, but has great potential. The beauty of a unit like this is that it is easy to release and install updates. If the company that builds them is on the ball, it could be so much better by this time next year if they keep on working on the bugs.
I would recommend it only for the very technically adept.