a provider of wired and wireless HDTV and PC digital video drives has recently
introduced its latest MG-450HD. The product has a host of features and interfaces
that make it a powerful addition to any modern media system. What makes the MediaGate
MG-450HD so attractive is its ability to stream content from a variety of sources
through wired LAN or wireless (802.11g) connections as well as from the (optional)
internal SATA hard drive. The MG-450HD includes a DVD Manager feature that allows
playback of non-protected DVD files with the same interface (full menu control)
as the original DVD with (Menu/Title/Audio/Subtitle buttons on the remote). Content
can be streamed from an external PC or from the internal hard drive. There is
also support for attached USB devices like a digital camera, flash drive or an
external hard drive. Supported video formats include AVI: MS-MPEG4v3/XviD/WMV9
(XviD with GMC option applied not supported), WMV: WMV9, ASF: WMV9, MP4: MPEG4
Video, DAT: MPEG1, VOB: MPEG2, MPG/MPEG: MPEG1/MPEG2, and TP/TS/TRP: HD-MPEG2/SD-MPEG2.
Supported audio formats include MP3, OGG, WAV, and WMA. Supported photo formats
include JPG, PNG, and BMP. Somehow they do it for a mere $229. We will find out
just how well this product performs as we take it through the ropes and report
on our findings. We have had previous experience with an earlier MediaGate unit
(MG-35) and the capabilities it provided us at the time were exceptional. So for
obvious reasons we were excited to see what the company has developed over the
The MediaGate MG-450HD system includes an IR remote, detachable
antenna for the WiFi interface, USB cable, standard A/V cables, and a power adapter
(110-240VAC, 50/60 Hz). There is no HDMI cable included with the unit, so if you
plan to use this interface you'll have to purchase one separately. The MG-450HD
sits on a removable base that keeps the unit from tipping. The unit supports an
internal 3.5" SATA hard drive giving it the ability to be a powerful stand-alone
media server. As the cost of these hard drives drop in price, it becomes even
more attractive for storing content locally, making the MG-450HD a true media
server. One of the first things we will do is install a drive into the MG-450HD
as part of the review.
The inside of the MG-450HD accommodates a standard 3.5" SATA
drive. Our review unit came with a small 80GB HDD with some sample content for
demonstration purposes. However, the MG-450HD is designed to support drives as
large as 750GB according to the documentation. During my conversation with the
technical folks at MediaGate, they informed me that a select number of larger
1TB drives are compatible with the unit. We installed an inexpensive ($119 from
Newegg) SATA 3.0 750GB Samsung hard drive into our MG-450HD to see how easy the
upgrade path would be. A few screws and a couple of connections later we were
able to connect the MG-450HD to our laptop using the USB cable for a lengthy NTFS
format. In the end, we had an enormous amount of hard drive space to store our
The front of the MediaGate MG-450HD has a cool looking blue LED behind
the navigation buttons. Below this are three buttons for Power, Play/Pause and
Stop. Indicators in the lower portion of the front panel are for power status
(red), network activity (yellow), and hard drive activity (green). While the MG-450HD
is booting up or when it is connected to a PC as a slave drive the blue light
behind the navigation buttons flash. Boot-up time takes approximately 20-30 seconds
before the unit becomes responsive and displays a picture. An IR detector just
above the indicators receive commands from the IR remote. The user rarely needs
to access the unit so it can be placed in reasonably tight quarters as long as
the IR window is exposed. It would have been nice if MediaGate provided a jack
for an IR extender. This would allow the unit to be placed in an out of sight
location. The electronics and internal hard drive can generate a substantial amount
of heat and due to the plastic enclosure the heat has a tendency to build up.
Fortunately, the enclosure does have a fair amount of venting holes on the cover
and back. We never had any failures related to this and ran the unit 24/7, but
it may be wise to keep the unit in a location where some ventilation is available.
The rear panel of the MediaGate MG-450HD is loaded with both analog
and digital interfaces. Composite, s-video and component (480p, 720p, and 1080i)
video outputs are provided along with a state-of-the-art HDMI (480p, 720p, 1080i,
and 1080p) digital video connector. This is a perfect match for the new displays
utilizing the HDMI interface where both audio and video are sent via a single
connection. We did the majority of our testing with a single HDMI cable to our
Mitsubishi LT-52133 LCD flat panel. For those with a separate audio system, the
MG-450HD features both coaxial and toslink digital audio interfaces along with
two channel analog audio. The digital audio outputs can be connected to an A/V
receiver or processor for decoding 5.1 Dolby Digital or DTS audio streams. A wired
ethernet jack (RJ-45) along with an antenna connection for the built-in Wi-Fi
(802.11g) is provided. The antenna can be adjusted in virtually any direction.
The input power jack uses a single 12V/3A supply from the universal AC power adapter.
This media server has more interfaces than most of the other media products we
IR remote is small, but has the functionality needed to control all the media
content. MediaGate has changed the design to accommodate a pair of standard AA
batteries instead of the more costly CR2025 button batteries used in so many of
the smaller remotes. This is a good move since the remote is used frequently and
will eventually need the batteries replaced. The Power button is colored
blue not to confuse it with the other buttons. The Setup button is also
colored differently. The rest of the buttons are much more difficult to distinguish
from one another especially given their small size. There is no backlight on the
remote so using it in a dark environment will prove challenging. The most frequently
used controls are the navigation, chapter, play/pause, and stop buttons which
are fairly easy to distinguish from one another. Given the size of the remote
the buttons work well, but I would have preferred a full size remote with backlighting.
However, my wife had no complaints about it and was able to operate the unit without
any problems. What is nice about the MG-450HD is the support of DVD ISO images
which is easier to manage than the more cumbersome Audio/Video file structure.
This allows the users to launch a movie quickly by selecting a single ISO filename
through the GUI and making full use of the DVD's menu. The response time for controlling
the DVD functions is excellent with this system. I was very impressed with how
fast the unit jumps between tracks and how quickly the unit displays the main
menu when commanded. This appears to be significantly faster than typical DVD
players and certainly something not found in many media servers.
There are several ways to move content to and from the MG-450HD
which gives the user a lot of flexibility. The unit has a USB device interface
making the unit look like an external hard drive to Windows when connected to
a PC using the included standard USB cable. Files can simply be dragged and dropped
or deleted from the unit. Alternatively, the MG-450HD has an FTP client feature
that allows the user to log into the unit and upload or download files from an
FTP server (in our case our PC). We were able to transfer files directly into
the large hard drive we installed. File transfer speed is somewhat slow compared
to a direct connection using the USB interface, but it adds the convenience of
not having to physically connect to the MG-450HD each time the content needs updating.
In addition, we were able to transfer files at the same time while watching an
ISO DVD without experiencing any dropouts. The user can also use the WiFi connection
to transfer data at a substantial decrease in transfer speed.
MG-450HD also features a USB Host interface. This is different from the USB interface
mentioned above. The host interface allows external USB storage devices to provide
content during playback. We connected a second 750GB external hard drive to the
MG-450HD, essentially doubling our storage capacity to 1.5TB. Our external USB/SATA
drive performed very well keeping up with real-time video from a DVD ISO file.
Even better, the MG-450HD also supported an external USB 2.0 hub for a large expansion
of the single USB port on the back panel. This is a powerful feature that gives
the MG-450HD access to large amounts of external storage devices. In theory several
external hard drives can be connected to the unit and accessed through the GUI.
USB memory sticks with audio/video/photo content can also be plugged into the
unit. We had mixed results with some of our USB memory sticks. Some worked fine
while other had trouble being recognized. In all cases the unit needs to be restarted
when a new USB device is connected before it is properly recognized by the system.
MG-450HD has an extensive setup menu that allows the user to specify the type
of display being used. Digital displays using the HDMI connection benefit from
not having the video converted to the analog domain. When using the HDMI connection,
the MG-450HD can be set to automatically detect the connected display using the
Auto EDID option. The user can also specify any format from 480i to 1080p.
Composite/S-video and component video outputs are also supported.
The MG-450HD supports a variety of both analog and digital video
displays. The user can choose the TV Type to be NTSC or PAL. The TV
Mode can be set to composite, component or HDMI. Depending on the TV Mode
selected, the user can choose different resolutions. All of our testing was done
in the 1080p video mode.
Photos can automatically be displayed on the screen for a fixed interval
of time or can be viewed manually. The automatic feature allows the user to set
the slide interval time ranging from 1 second to 7 seconds. The user can also
choose an effect between the photos (Zoom In/Out, Fade In/Out, Slide or Random).
MG-450HD supports both wireless (802.11g) and wired internet connections. The
wireless menu is slightly cumbersome to use, but certainly works. We used a secure
link without any problems. The wired interface worked well and the unit identified
the connection quickly. We had DHCP set to ON and the unit quickly identified
itself on the network.
The Main Menu of the MG-450HD has icons on the left side of the screen
for the hard drive (HDD), USB, LAN, and Wireless interfaces. The user can select
any icon as the source of the content to be displayed. The content for each of
the interfaces is displayed on the right side of the screen. The file path, size
and date are displayed on the bottom of the screen. Selecting a single ISO file
of a DVD launches the DVD giving the user full access to the menus. This is probably
one of the most powerful features of the MG-450HD. The speed of this interface
is impressive and the unit responds quickly to remote commands.
MediaGate MG-450HD has built-in Wi-Fi (802.11g) and can support attached USB devices
such as digital cameras. You can also add a hard drive to the MG-450HD for extra
onboard storage. We installed a relatively inexpensive ($109) 750GB hard drive
in the MG-450HD and it worked well. You will get HD resolutions all the way up
to 1080p via the HDMI connections, there are also composite, s-video, stereo analog
sound, and also optical / coaxial SPDIF digital audio for full 5.1 audio.
The MediaGate MG-450HD did amazingly well in all of our tests. Video quality was
excellent and the high definition content we streamed looked fantastic. The flexibility
this unit offers is difficult to find on a media server and there were several
tests we ran during the course of the review that proved that this unit can handle
a great deal. We connected two of the MG-450HD units in different locations in
the house and watched movies from the same server. Both units had no problem playing
the selected video and surprisingly didn't skip a beat. We were surprised to see
this, but it worked very well. The second test we performed was watching content
while transferring files to the unit through the network. Again the video played
seamlessly as the new files were being written to the internal SATA hard drive.
were also excellent on this player. Our source photos were taken with a Canon
40D digital SLR with 10M pixel resolution. Without modifying the original images
we used the MG-450HD to display the images with the parameters defined in the
setup screen. The picture quality was superb, fully maximizing the screen resolution
when displaying photos. The MG-450HD can also stream music, yet we didn't focus
on this aspect of the player. We can say that the internet radio was a cool feature,
but the audio quality was limited and this was objectionable enough for us not
to want to use it. However, MP3 music from our music server sounded great on this
The MG-450HD is not without its warts and we did run into bandwidth issues when
using the wireless connection. Streaming videos through this connection proved
to be challenging with choppy video during playback. The wired connection worked
fine with real-time video on our network. When starting a movie we heard a double
clicking noise in the audio when using the HDMI cable. We are not sure what causes
this, but it was consistent. A larger backlit remote would also give higher marks
to the design. Hopefully this is something MediaGate might consider in the near
The MediaGate MG-450HD clearly provides users with an affordable way to stream
multimedia into their home entertainment system. The compact design and feature
set is impressive for a product that retails for $229. The MG-450HD is capable
of streaming both standard definition as well as high definition content. Virtually
all types of displays (both analog and digital) are supported and for those looking
to upgrade their screen in the near future, the MG-450HD is ready to accommodate
it. The HDMI interface ensures that the information from the source stays in the
digital domain. Whether content is stored on the internal or attached hard drive
or from the network PC server, the MG-450HD offers users a great deal of flexibility
and performance. Clearly, the MG-450HD has some of the best features available
in a media server and does it for an incredibly affordable price.
ability to play DVD ISO files is one of the best features. Updating the firmware
is simple and during the course of the review we did one firmware update. Hopefully
MediaGate will continue to offer updates with performance improvements and bug
fixes. Given the cost of this unit, there is no reason not to have one for each
display in the house for the ultimate use of your multimedia. This has been the
best media sever for the money we have seen thus far.