Bluetimes BT3550b Review (3D bluray / android media streamer)

Discussion in 'Video Streaming Boxes & Services' started by juniperpansy, Dec 22, 2011.

  1. juniperpansy

    juniperpansy
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    (I apologize for the formatting. It got messed up when copy and pasting from Evernote)

    Ok so here is my review of the Bluetimes BT3550b. I had never heard about Bluetimes until about a month ago, but I since found out they are a legitimate company that seems to be ambitiously trying to increase their market share.


    Just to contrast Bluetimes and Himedia, apparently Bluetimes has US$50 million - $100 million in sales annually ( Shenzhen Bluetimes Technology Co., Ltd. - China (Mainland) - Manufacturer while Himedia ) while Himedia has only $US 5 million - 10 million in sales annually Himedia Technology Limited - China (Mainland) - Manufacturer. How accurate these numbers I dont know, but I found it interesting.




    Bluetimes service
    _________________
    I've found them to be extremely helpful. I was personally in contact with Shirley and I have 13 emails from her in my inbox. Typical response time for an email query was only a few hours. The communications were all professionally done. I take this a positive sign as they are serious about customer service.


    After I ordered from them (free shipping) took about 2 days to ship and then about another 2 to reach me. This is certainly a big plus as as in my country it usually takes items 3+ weeks to be shipped from China




    For full disclosure I want you guys to know the way it works is you pay $150 and then they refund you $50 when you write a review of the product (a smart way to get exposure).


    My POV: I have always watched video on my computer. I haven't watched video on a TV since I lived with my mom (10+ years ago!). I also haven't ever used a media streamer before, so basically for this review I am contrasting my experience in using the BT3550b vs a Windows 7 PC using Media Player Classic.




    So... the Bluetimes BT3550B. Specs are here: Multimedia Player,Multimedia Recorder,HD 1080P,Bluetimes,Shenzhen Blue times Technology Co., Ltd-Product Center-3D Android Media Player
    Some pictures I took here: https://skydrive.live.com/redir.aspx?cid=1b9651bf2d49e2d0&resid=1B9651BF2D49E2D0!122&parid=root
    The main features over the realtek 1185 chipset are full 3D bluray support and android. Is it any good? Read on!






    Things I like
    _________________________
    The main feature of playing videos works quite well. The 32x fast forward I really like. It also has a bookmark feature where you can begin play where last left off in video. It also has a favorites so you can automatically go to a file or directory (eg. for a tv series) so you don't need to traverse the directories every time.


    Playing video
    _______________
    Most videos I played well. There were a couple of random files that played on my computer but not on the bt3550b. Not a big deal.


    One weird thing is I have an mkv file that will only FF to 2x (box usually allows 32x) and will not allow me to skip to other parts of the video. Other mkv files I have played work fine and this one has no issues on my pc. Weird...


    I haven't received my 3D glasses yet. I'll update this part of the review after for 3D films




    Overall I would rate this feature pretty good. No major issues here.


    subtitles
    ______________
    They work ok.
    A couple of niggles:
    -They are always turned on by default though. It would be nice to have a setting to have them off by default (and better yet save the subtitle settings for each video!)
    - Every 2nd size setting for subtitles seems to make the subtitles go off the screen a bit


    Noise
    ______________
    A little bit of fan noise (like that of a quiet computer). I don't really find it annoying and don't notice when watching tv.



    DLNA
    _______________
    works but sometimes plays the wrong file (too many files in directory?)



    Networking
    _____________________


    Uploading speeds from my computer to the BT3550B:


    gigabit - gigabit: 9-10MB/s
    wireleness n - router - wireless n (through 1 wall about 25ft): 1.3MB/s *


    wireleness n - router - wireless n (8ft. box 1m from router): 1.6 MB/s *
    wired to router - wirelss n to computer 3.6MB/s **

    Note: MB/s - Megabytes per second
    * - I am using a wifi dongle that bluetimes included for an extra $10. It looks pretty cheap but then again it cost $10 so it is cheap. Hopefully better bandwidth can be had with a better adaptor. That being said I have no ideas which adaptors are compatible with realtek 1186.


    ** - I assuming the bottleneck here is the wireless card on my computer (This one I believe: Newegg.com - Rosewill RNX-N300X IEEE 802.11b/g, IEEE 802.11n Draft 2.0 PCI Wireless Adapter (2T3R) Up to 300Mbps Wireless Download Data Rates 64/128-Bit WEP, WPA PSK and WPA2 PSK (TKIP and AES) Vista/Win7 )



    Android
    ________________________
    You can plug in your kb and mouse to use with android.


    Internet browser:
    According to What is my screen resolution the resolution of the browser is only 853x455.
    Speed is ok Faster than my 800mhz arm11 smartphone (galaxy gio) although it is pretty buggy.
    Some pages work well, but others, such as google news just crash the browser.
    Notable issues:
    -no spacebar on onscreen english keyboard!
    - even though most pictures are too big to be seen on the screen you are only able to zoom in, not zoom out!

    Other:
    I tried to install the digitally imported apk (android 1.5+) but it didn't work. Too bad... Android would be good for internet radio I thought... Some apk's work although many don't

    Also I have to plug in the wifi adaptor AFTER android is loaded or else apps keep telling me that there is no wifi connection even though the app is currently using the wifi connection

    There is no market. Unless this gets upgraded to android 4.0, I would consider this android implementation to be pretty useless.



    "Premium apps"
    ______________________
    A bunch of apps are included. Here is a short list:
    youtube - works quite good. Definitely the best app included although the youtube app on my panasonic tv is a bit better


    netflix - when i try to load it, it says i dont have an internet connection. Now i don't live in the USA so perhaps it will work there?


    Pandora - nothing happens. I have to reset the box. Pandora is not availabe in my country so possibly works for those in USA?


    facebook - barely useable.

    There's a bunch of other apps that i haven't got around to trying....


    Remote Control
    _________________________
    It works ok. The angles you can use the remote on are smaller than a regular remote, so just be mindful of that if it seems to not be working properly.



    Things missing
    _______________________
    There does not seem to be any change audio timings to fix audio and video streams out of sync.


    Niggles
    _______________________
    - I used a brand new factory formatted seagate internal drive. It appeared to work fine initially, but i noticed files weren't being deleted properly and files copied over the network would just disappear -BUT- after formatting the drive with the BT3550b all of these problems disappeared.
    MORAL OF THE STORY: even if your drive appears to be working correctly format it with the BT3550B first!


    Comparison to other realtek 1186 media streamers
    ________________________
    Himedia, egreat, etc. are all competition. While I've never seen any of these in person, from reading the internet it seems most suffer pretty much the same issues. IMHO I believe what this means is that it is a lot of the issues are on realtek's side (e.g. buggy android implementation) and other than bandaid solutions I doubt the manufacturers can do much about it. We just need to wait for realtek to get off their but and fix things.

    Its interesting how realtek doesn't even post the specs of this chipset publicly...




    Firmware versions
    __________________
    Nov 25
    Dec 9
    The above are the 2 firmware updates I am aware of so they seem to be keeping up, but bluetimes really needs to post these on their website to gain customer trust (show us customers that you are working to improve your products for us!)


    Suggested improvements:
    ______________________________
    -A jukebox such as yamj would be great!
    -Post firmware updates on bluetimes website!


    Conclusion
    ______________________
    The BT3550b is certainly a good start and bluetimes has impressed me with their service. First and foremost it works pretty well as a standard media player. The other features... well... currently I do not find much value in them and tend to be quite buggy.

    Bluetimes is currently selling this much (until christmas) cheaper than its competitors and has free express shipping. I would say I'm currently happy with the price I paid although that is contingent on future firmware updates. This box seems to have the bugs the other realtek 1186 boxes have so its hard to fault one company for something they all have. I'm more inclined to blame realtek.

    Anyways, thats about it. Any questions/comments? Anything I missed? I should be posting a video of it on youtube in the next days. Harass me if I'm taking too long ;)
     
    Last edited: Dec 22, 2011
  2. bubblegum57

    bubblegum57
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    Good review
     
  3. dogsballs

    dogsballs
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    thanks for the review. The one problem which seems to recure with android is its lack of ability to render the greatest video (or so i have read) whats your take on this
     
  4. juniperpansy

    juniperpansy
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    I will try to have a youtube video within a couple of days

    Can you be more specific? or quote a source?
    As mentioned above the resolution in android seems to be limited to 853x455. Maybe thats the issue? I watched a video streaming site on it and it looked ok... but I haven't tried installing flash on it (not even sure that it would work).
     
  5. juniperpansy

    juniperpansy
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  6. JTAG

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    Thanks juniperpansy, good to hear some real world feedback on a RTD1186 based product.

    I think that you have to be careful about where you point your finger here. Realtek is a semi conductor company like AMD or Intel and you are describing software bugs. One might argue that these companies (Bluetimes, Himedia, Egreat) have rushed their products to market without sufficient testing.

    Some specs are listed here, though you wouldn't exactly call them verbose...
     
  7. SPACE MAN

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    I to is having this problem but on the bt3550b when connected to PC but its all my movie files.
    I click on one movie and it plays a completely differant video file everytime and i have not got it to work correctly once.

    Does anyone else have this problem ?
     
    Last edited: Feb 17, 2012
  8. juniperpansy

    juniperpansy
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    Ok...are you talking about playing files via DLNA?
    For me if I only had 1 0r 2 files in a directory DLNA would play the correct video but if there are many videos in the directory then it would play the wrong file.

    I don't bother to use DLNA anymore... but maybe its fixed in the new firmwares? Anyways probably would be a good idea to send a bug report to bluetimes. IME they have good communication with customers.
     
  9. Trollslayer

    Trollslayer
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    There is a very good reason for this.
    The detailed data shows features about the architecture of the chip which a competitor would find very useful so steps are taken to control this.
    It is common practice in SoC (System on Chip) devices.
     
  10. alwinston

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    Appreciate the thorough review, but I learned my lesson on dealing with this company. I took a huge chance and bought the Blue Times (aka Bluetimes) c500b 1186 realtek RTD chip based streaming media player from them. Although there were some positives, like the SATA input that worked great with my hard drives, and the ability to play any file thrown at it, including mkv's that WDTVs could not handle due to the packaging . . . the wireless functions sucked. I attempted the simplest- just connecting to Youtube. The machine would freeze and require powercycling to recover. No amount of resetting fixed this. Worse yet, the web browser options were all greyed out.

    Turns out Blue Times has firmware that cripples the 1186 chipset, and they have no intention to upgrade or fix it. I contacted them and they admitted to the accidental crippling by their bad firmware. They directed me to a user forum to download and install their firmware, which bricked the unit. I tried returning it, so far no money back and I doubt I'll see what I spent ever returned. Personally, I would not purchase anything from this company unless it's through a retailer that will offer full refunds and return shipping. Caveat emptor with this Chinese company.
     

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