I’ve been exploring options for upgrading my ageing HD TV and have seriously been considering a 4K TV. Too bad, I missed on the Black Friday deals and Christmas offers, but nonetheless I am sure in 2015 there’ll be plenty of opportunities to get myself upgraded. However, I don’t think that the 4K TV would be a problem, at least getting a decent affordable one might be a bit more challenging, as there’s no way I am spending four digits on a TV… at least not if I still want to have a roof over my head.
I think the more challenging part of my Home Entertainment suite upgrade would be finding a decent 4K media hub. I for once, feel a bit “behind the times” in this department. I still plug in a very old Western Digital 120GB HDD into the USB 2.0 port of my very old, but Multi-region, Blu-ray player in order to watch a .mkv or a .mp4 on my TV.
I remember being at Vlady’s house over during the Chrstimas holidays, and saw his 1080p media hub, which was quite neat. It was small, compact and you could operate it with a remote control. I had seen these at electronics stores, but never thought I’d actually end up needing one. Why would I need one, when I can just plugin my 120GB external hard drive? I felt behind the times and missing out. Or was I…?
Honestly, it was time for me to get with the program and get a decent media hub, but I decided to skip the 1080p media hub altogether and jump on the 4K train. As to my trust external drive putting in time as my current “media hub” I still have no idea why it’s running, that thing is probably 8-10 years old, and I don’t think they even make those any more.
Recently, I came across an interesting option for a 4K media hub called Nuvola NP-1 from NanoTech. They dubbed the little box – “The World’s First Streaming 4K Ultra HD Media Player…” It runs Android 4.4.2 KitKat and it connects via Ethernet or Wi-Fi.
The Nuvola NP-1 supports current 4K Ultra HD video using the H.264 compression, and will be automatically updated with the latest H.265 (HEVC) codecs as they become available. HEVC support is a good thing, as eventually 4K streaming will move towards the new standard.
I am not very familiar with the NVIDIA Tegra 4 Quad Core mobile processor that the Nuvola NP-1, but the 2GB of RAM and 16GB of internal flash memory seem to do the job fine, at least for me as I don’t plan on playing video games on the unit, as I am trying to shake off my Angry Birds Star Wars addiction.
The Nuvola NP-1 from NanoTech comes bundled with the following apps:
NVIDIA Tegra 4 Quad Core Mobile Processor with 2GB DDR3 RAM
16GB Flash Memory
Dual Band 802.11n 2×2 Mimo Wi-Fi
HDMI 1.4 output w/Audio
1x USB 2.0 / 1x USB 3.0
0mm (w) x 100mm (l) x30mm (h)
4K Ultra HD (3840 x 2160), HD (1920 x 1080 & 1280 x 720), SD (720 x 480)
Android 4.4.2 KitKat OS
MP4, MKV, AVI, MOV, OGG
AAC, FLAC, MP3, WAV
BMP, GIF, JPG, PNG
Access up to 10 Streaming Movies free of charge on the NanoFlix Ultra HD Channel
500K – SD
1.5 M – HD 720p
2.5 M – HD 1080p
10M – UHD 2160p if HEVC H.265 capable playback device
20M – UHD 2160p if HEVC H.264 capable playback device
Visually Perfect Download (very difficult to detect any loss)
400K – SD
1.2 M – HD 720p
1.6 M – HD 1080p
6M – UHD 2160p if HEVC H.265 capable playback device
10M – UHD 2160p if HEVC H.264 capable playback device
Some Lossyness (banding, blocky gradient)
300K – SD
980K – HD 720p
1 M – HD 1080p
3M – UHD 2160p if HEVC H.265 capable playback device
6M – UHD 2160p if HEVC H.264 capable playback device
The nice thing about this media hub is that it is not tied to any manufacturer’s TV – for example Sony’s 4K media hub, the name of which evades me, requires a 4K Bravia TV and an Xperia table? None of which I have! My current HD TV is a Sony Bravia, but as to 4K, I may be switching to a more brand agnostic hub. The Nuvola NP-1 runs Android too, giving me additional flexibility. Or as I like to call it – one more step towards leaving the “Apple” ecosystem…