IAMM NTD37HD Review
Here is my personal quick review of IAMM NTD37HD, hdd multimedia player with H.264 support. IAMM is based on the SEM8623 (by Sigma Designs) chip with 64MB RAM (8 MB flash) and runs on ucLinux. Supports SATA HDD only with NTFS or FAT32 format. Specification follows, please remember, i didn't check every spec, so it may differ from reality (and it also depends on actual firmware version).
Video: DivX(3/4/5), AVI, Xvid, MPEG, MPG, VCD(DAT), DVD(VOB, IFO), ISO, WMV, WMV9, ASF, TS, TP, TRP, H.264 support, MKV support added in firmware 1.1.105
Audio: MP3, WMA, AAC, OGG, PCM, AC3, DTS decoding down mixing, DTS pass through
Pictures: BMP, JPEG/JPG, PNG
Subtitles: SMI, SUB, SRT (supports CP1250)
Video: Composite, S-Video, Component (480p,720p,1080i), DVI (480p,720p,1080i, 1080p)
Audio: Analog 2 channel stereo (Ac3 & DTS downmix), Analog 5.1 channel, Digital 5.1 channel (1 coax, 1 optical)
Network: RJ45 Ethernet Lan port, 54Mbps Wireless (802.11b/g) - supports WEP and WPA, NDAS
USB: 1 USB2.0 to PC port, 2 USB2.0 host port (powered max 500mA)
In the box you will get IAMM NTD37HD itself, remote, composite/audio av cable, component cable, usb cable, batteries, AC adaptor, wifi antenna and manual. Everything needed is there, so you can setup the unit and prepare it for playback.
Setup is really easy and the unit is ready for use within a minute, just follow instructions in the manual. I will not mention setup procedure, because it is really simple, but you have to be carefull when setting up your audio connection (downmix or passthrough). I'm using analog 2 channel stereo with composite video and optical connection with s-video cable. I have to say, that optical connection doesn't support stereo playback with the 1.1.102 firmware, you have to upgrade to 1.1.104 to be able to listen mp3's through optical connection. With the newer firmware everything works fine. IAMM NTD37HD passes video and audio through all connections, so you don't have to take care about video setup connectivity (i didn't test DVI, but you can change video out through SETUP menu).
My unit doesn't support HDMI, there is no HDMI port available. NTD37HD HDMI edition was introduced to the market later.
Setup : Available subtitle colors.
Network connection works also like a charm, if connected through RJ45 or wireless, everything works fine. When setting up wireless connectivity, you have to be accurate and after that patient when waiting for IP via DHCP. It takes some time to IAMM NTD37HD to make wireless connection. Setup done, video connected through s-video and composite, audio connected to the receiver through analog stereo and optical, network connected via wifi.
Internal HDD setup
Choosing the right one hdd is not so easy:) I read a lot of ideas and opinions all over the world, it was something like "don't choose Hitachi or Seagate, its startup is slow and IAMM doesn't mount them sometimes correctly, choose a Samsung HDD". So i bought the Samsung SpinPoint T166 500GB, SATA II NCQ, 16MB cache, 7200ot, 8.9ms, HD501LJ. And the result ? Samsung HDD generates vibrations, so that the unit with inserted hdd and with default setup generates IMO audible noise, because operating HDD resonates with the IAMM plastic enclosure. Fan's noise is IMO not audible. But i have to mention, that the noise is not so bad, my wife has sensitive ears and she doesn't hear the noise ;-) From the 2m distance is the noise not audible, again IMO :) Another problem is that for 3 times didn't IAMM NTD37HD detect hdd successfully, i think it was caused by too quick restart of the unit (power off and again power on). I'm using as media source USB thumbdrive with this unit too, without any problems.
Tip: To lower vibrations try to fix HDD firmly inside the housing, you may use strip of rubber etc. Noise level should be reduced after that. Otherwise, i would recommend to replace your drive with Western Digital Green Power (GP) HDD (finally my option :)
USB connection to your PC will give you USB2.0 speed, transferring files to the internal hdd is easy, just connect IAMM to your PC, new hdd will appear. You can format the hdd, and after that you can start copying multimedia to the unit. Autodetection on the notebook with WinXP Pro worked fine, but on older PC (MSI VIA KT333) it was not at first time succesfully recognised by WinXP Home edition. Second try was successfull. Transfer rates on the PC were about 13MB/s, on the notebook it was about 19MB/s.
Note: You can manage (copy/move/rename/delete) files through USB to PC or NDAS connection only.
Std. video playback
You may choose between internal HDD, 2 USB ports and network when playing multimedia content.
IAMM NTD37HD played every DivX and XVid file (but the unit doesn't support GMC and QPEL), subtitles are also available, they have to have same name as the file. XSUB DivX subtitles are not supported. You can choose two sizes of subtitles, you may set up a color for the subtitles. You can also control subtitle synchronisation during the playback. Unit supports zoom/scroll function. Standard .avi and .wmv files are supported, MJPEG is not supported. The unit passes AC3 to the receiver without any problems. DVD ISO plays fine and comfortable with full DVD menu and remote functionallity. You can change subtitles and audio tracks during DVD ISO playback too. Moving to the next/previous chapter is available, GOTO function is also supported. Fast forward is running good, but rewind doesn't function properly. At this point i have to notice that during playback are remote control response times slow, the unit takes its time to do for example previous/next chapter commands. There is another feature called "Bookmark", when you play a file and press Bookmark, the unit memorizes current position and you can move back to this bookmark in the future. There are only 5 bookmark slots to store. When you stop the movie in the middle and want to play the movie again, the unit will ask you if you want to continue with the movie starting at remembered position. When trying to play video files stripped into multiple files, the unit will try to continue automatically with the next file after the end of current part. At last, i have to tell you about another nice feature, you can adjust picture brightness, saturation and contrast, really good ;-) I think, that the output image quality is good, i didn't notice any problems.
Streaming abilities of the IAMM NTD37HD strongly depends on your network hardware, for example i was able to stream DivX/XVid and mp3 files without any problems, but streaming of DVD ISO was not possible (stuttering, choppy image and sound) through my broadband router Edimax 6104WB (802.11b support).
Subtitles size : Large.
Subtitles size : Small.
HD Video playback
I tested about 10 files, mainly HD demos and sample files. But i'm not interested in HD video so that my tests are only informational. Please check table with results bellow.
Video playback test results (firmware 1.1.104):
.avi (XVid 1280x720, PCM 48kHz) - OK
.wmv (wmv9 480x260, wma) - OK
.wmv (wmv9 1280x720, wma 44kHz) - OK
.divx (DivX5 704x400, mp3 48kHz, XSUB support) - video and sound playback OK, XSUB subtitles not supported
.mkv - not supported
.mkv renamed to .avi (XVid 640x480, ogg) - video playback OK, but with no sound
.mp4 (mpeg4-H264 1280x720, AAC 48kHz) - video playback OK, sound is in several parts choppy
.wmv (WVC1 1280x720 2048kbps, wma 44kHz 128kbps) - OK
.wmv (wmv9 1440x810 8192kbps, wma 48kHz 192kbps) - video playback OK, 3 seconds stuttering, sound OK, forward/rewind not supported
.ts (mpeg2 704x576 15000kbps, mpegaudio 48kHz 192kbps) - OK
.avi (DivX-opendivx 640x368, ima adpcm 48kHz 386kbps) - not supported (wrong file format)
.ts (mpeg4-H264 1920x1088, mpegaudio 48kHz 192kbps) - OK
Music playback, jukebox feature
IAMM NTD37HD plays .mp3, .wma and should support .ogg files (according to specs. on the box) I have no .ogg, so i downloaded demo file direct from Vorbis, but the unit didn't succeed, there is probably no .ogg support at this moment, but i'm not sure about it. Playlist files M3U and PLS are also supported, but you cannot play radio from internet. IAMM NTD37HD supports playing all files from current folder, random and single file, you can choose playback mode from SETUP menu. I wonder, that there is no support to move to the next song, so you have to first move to the next song and then press OK. That's weird. Am i doing something wrong ? But another good feature is JUKEBOX. You can create custom JUKEBOX playlist and play the music from JUKEBOX during viewing images etc.
Audio playback results (firmware 1.1.104):
.mp3 - OK - no id3 tag support
.wma 9.2 - OK
.ogg (vorbis) - no sound, may be not supported
.m4a (mpeg4 AAC LC) - not recognised
Image browser, photo viewer
Photo viewer is really basic tool for viewing pictures in PNG, BMP and JPG format. You can browse your photos, but you cannot rotate them, there is only zoom function supported. When viewing your images, you can start music playback with the BGM (background music) feature which starts your JUKEBOX playlist. You can also choose slideshow interval in the SETUP. Time to load a standard image (ie 1024x768pixels) is low, but there may occur problems when viewing large files. And thats it, image browsing is really limited. There was one hang-up of the unit when i was trying to view some broken image, the unit stopped to respond, only reboot was possible.
Support, firmware, stability etc.
Support from Novatron is very weak, you have to contact your local reseller. Firmware 1.1.104 solves optical passthrough sound issue mentioned above.
One notice to the built-in fan, i'm really sceptic about fan removal even the unit is operated without internal hdd. The unit gets warm during playback by default, you can feel the heat on the housing of the unit when playing files from USB thumbdrive or streaming files over a network. It will be also really interesting to check internal hdd parameters in the future, i think, that it may get overheated because of the unit housing design. IMO is better to leave the fan inside :)
The unit stability may be better, i had 3 hang-ups during my home usage, one hang-up was related to broken picture, one when playing ISO DVD file and another one was during boot. There were 3 times problems related to internal hdd detection, the unit didn't mount internal hdd after boot.
Power consumption :
- Standby: 5W
- On/playback (mp3, DVD iso, HD video): 16W
Firmware 1.1.112 overview (newest firmware 1.1.126 available for NTD37HD HDMI only !)
- Fast forward/rewind issues solved.
- Unit's response times are faster.
- MKV support added, FF/REW for MKV will be added in the next firmware.
- External subtitles : some national characters are still not displayed (please check UI screenshots).
- Zoom doesn't zoom correctly.
- Only first 200 files is played in the folder.
- OGG still not supported.
Please check http://www.station-drivers.com/page/novatron_36-67hd.htm for latest firmware. BTW NTD37HD HDMI unit is similar to Iconbit HD370W HDMI.
And the result ? It does what it promises. It is a media player and good jukebox :) But there are some cons too, for example noise level (internal hdd vibrations), remote control response time during playback or accindental hang-ups. Even those issues, i think it is good product. We will see, right know i'm satisfied :)
- Manufacturer: Novatron LTD.
- Firmware and recovery tools: http://www.station-drivers.com/page/novatron_36-67hd.htm
- Discussion forums
- Reseller in the Czech Republic (support, firmware): UMAX.cz (only in Czech, discontinued)
Thank you for your patience with my english ;-)