Setting up the Thecus M3800 for use with your audio/video theater turned out to be quite easy. Our first step towards enjoying the multimedia stored on our M3800 is to log back into the Thecus Configuration Menu and open up the “TV Setup” panel. From here, we select our output and display parameters for our panel.
Now it’s important to note that you have to go here first to configure the NAS box (especially if you are using a High-Def display) because the M3800’s default output is Composite (Red/White/Yellow) out. When I first tried to use the M3800 with my Hitachi plasma, it took me a while to figure out why I wasn’t getting any output. (It really does help to read the manual!)
After everything is configured, you can now pick up the tiny remote control and power the M3800 A/V Center up. Upon power up, you will see the M3800 A/V Menu where you can choose the media you want to listen to or view.
We chose to listen to some of the music that we stored on our NAS as a first test. This is where we ran into our first problem with M3800 format support. Even though MP3s are the most abundant compression known now, the Thecus NAS doesn’t support it and will not play it. To us, this was really, really disappointing. Yes, our WMA and AAC files played quickly and sounded good though our stereo system. With the remote you are able to pause, skip, fast forward, and fast rewind with the tracks so from a functionality standpoint, once you get the right format files.
We had better success when playing videos: The Thecus Stream Box identified all the supported files and folders that we had loaded. There is a little preview window that starts to play the file when the files is highlighted – a pretty cool feature, we must add. When we selected the video that we wanted to play, there was a very short delay before it started to play. For the most part every AVI and WMV that we selected played with minimal fuss.
The M3800 has the ability to play TS and VOB files from captured (or ripped) DVD media and when we tried this, it worked great…until we looked at files that had been compressed to save space. The M3800 didn’t fill the screen with this content, but played the files in their original size making some files look more like picture in picture since they weren’t even centered on the TV screen. Quite weird.
Another quirk with playing VOBs is that when you select the “menu” VOB file, the menu looks great and all, but it’s not functional. In other words, you can see the menu, but you just can’t use it.