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Thecus M3800 Media Storage and Playback Device

Tom's Holiday Buyer's Guide 2008, Part 1
By , Chris Angelini

http://www.thecus.com
$466
By: Ed Tittel

As Patrick Schmid observed in his June 2008, Tom’s article "Thecus: M3800 Home NAS and Mini PCs Powered by AMD Geode," the M in this unit’s model number stands for multimedia. That is, the M3800 goes somewhat beyond what a typical network attached storage device can do to accommodate streaming media across a network. That probably also explains why the unit includes a small infrared remote control and features AV outputs (HDMI, component video, AV, and S/PDIF optical) as well. The M3800 also functions as an iTunes server, a Photo Web Server, and a uPnP media server.

The M3800’s media handling capabilities aren’t bad—although the Axentra/LaCie HipServ handles more formats, it offers only 500 GB of storage. On the video side, the M3800 works with WMV9 and WMVHD (no DRM for either format), AVI, VOB, and TS. It also supports the XVID, H.264, and VC-1 video codecs. For audio, the unit handles WMA, AAC, PCM, and M4A (here again, no DRM for this last item) and supports AC3, WMA, WMAPRO, PCM, LPCM, and Blu-ray LPCM (BLPCM) codecs as well.

As Schmid’s article points out, the M3800 is built around the AMD Geode processor—a 500 MHz LX800 processor, to be more specific, to provide RAID 5 support and manage network communications. Under the hood, the M3800 runs the OpenFiler 2.3 storage appliance software (LinuxBSDos.com characterizes it as an rPath Linux derivative). The device includes three drive bays and can accommodate up to 4 SATA hard disks in RAID 0, 1, 5, or just-a-bunch-of-disk (JBOD ) configurations. Stuffed with three Seagate 7200.11 1.5 TB drives in its internal bays, with another one plugged into its eSATA port, maximum capacity sits at a whopping 6.0 TB!

The M3800 is no slouch when it comes to networking, either. It includes dual GbE RJ-45 ports and can handle WiFi using a bundled USB dongle plugged into one of its two USB ports (1 front, 1 rear). The unit handles both TCP/IP and AppleTalk protocols, and works with file protocols based on SMB/CIFS, HTTP/HTTPS, FTP, and NFS. It may be configured with a static IP address, a dynamic IP address, and works with PPPoE and DDNS as well. The M3800 works with clients running Windows 98 and newer, UNIX or Linux, and MacOS 9 or X. It also supports WebDisk to deliver Web-based file access, acts as an FTP server, and supports the Internet Printing Protocol (IPP) to support USB and other IPP printers.

Although you must also purchase drives for the M3800 in addition to the device (the excellent Samsung 1 TB drives are available at Newegg for $110 right now), it’s a very good buy at under $500. For households or small offices that need extended storage and streaming media services, this is a hard box to beat. Anybody who knows what the M3800 can do will be happy to see one under the tree come Xmas.

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  • 2 Hide
    ravenware , November 5, 2008 5:28 AM
    Quote:
    Dell 3008WFP Ultrasharp 30"

    , we can’t think of any computer user who wouldn’t be thrilled to get one.


    Gamers. The 8ms response time is a little on the slow side.
  • 0 Hide
    Portall , November 5, 2008 6:42 AM
    Nope. You won't see difference between 8 and 4ms :) 
  • 1 Hide
    V3NOM , November 5, 2008 8:30 AM
    well you can... CRT vs LCD is quite clear.
  • 3 Hide
    cangelini , November 5, 2008 8:41 AM
    I play on the prior year's model (3007) all the time without any problems. Don't pass up gaming on a 30" display without at least trying it for yourself!
  • 2 Hide
    Anonymous , November 5, 2008 9:13 AM
    Dual-link DVI does NOT need two seperate cables. HDMI's video component IS DVI. I'm amazed this slipped through and into the article:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Digital_Visual_Interface
  • 0 Hide
    radnor , November 5, 2008 9:22 AM
    Well, you will actually. If you ever seen them side by side you will notice the difference. 5ms seems to be the sweet spot.
  • 4 Hide
    Anonymous , November 5, 2008 10:36 AM
    Just a word of warning to anyone purchasing this monitor and wanting to watch Blu-Ray titles on it. If you use DVI as your input it can not display Blu-Ray titles above 1920 x 1080. Now I know this is the native res on the monitor. But HDCP will fail if the monitor's resolution is set any higher than this. This is due to a design flaw in the monitor's chipset. This wouldn't be a problem if all it meant was you had to reset the resolution when you want to watch a movie, but the problem is, 1920 x 1080 is not the same aspect ratio as 2560 x 1600. So your picture is vertically stretched. I know this because I bought one and spent hours in forums and on the phone with Dell before finding this out. I returned the monitor, because at $2000, there's no excuse for buggy HDCP support over DVI.
  • 0 Hide
    Anonymous , November 5, 2008 11:01 AM
    what happened to the really cute girl you guys had last year ?
  • 1 Hide
    xsamitt , November 5, 2008 12:04 PM
    I think I'd take the 30 inch dell if it was free......Guess I won't be having one now for sure.lol.
    8 mills is just to slow.And Leigon thanks for the heads up.

    I do hope the new items to come are more interesting than this first round.
  • -2 Hide
    Anonymous , November 5, 2008 12:19 PM
    What happened to the great girl from last year? The blond on here looks strung out and or too gothy for a Christmas ad.
  • 7 Hide
    zak_mckraken , November 5, 2008 12:48 PM
    Quote:
    Ugly girls...


    Oh really? Come on pal, let's see some pictures of your wife/girlfriend so we can compare. Well, assuming you have one of course.
  • 2 Hide
    jameshan2k , November 5, 2008 12:56 PM
    I usually don't go for blondes, but the blonde is quite nice....
  • 0 Hide
    zak_mckraken , November 5, 2008 1:13 PM
    About the response time, 8ms does seem a tad high but we have to be careful here. Most manufacturers will advertise their monitors as having a 2ms or 5ms response time. However, when you look at the charts, most of the time this response time is the maximum the monitor can reach during a dark scene or a low action gaming sequence. This is often not representative of an average use and the so-called 5ms monitor will most likely be around 6ms-7ms in everyday situations. Same thing applies for contrast since every manufacturer uses their own chart for measuring it. The best way to know how your monitor will perform in real life is to look at comparative charts made by neutral parties, like Tom's, who uses the same methods to compare response time, contrast and color fidelity with all monitors.

    As for this particular Dell 3008WFP Ultrasharp 30", I have really no idea if it's suitable for movies and gaming or not. However, is Chris says it is, it's usually enough for me! Unfortunately, I just bought a Samsung T220 and it pleases me enough. Anyway, I do not have 2 grand to put on a monitor... yet.
  • 3 Hide
    crockdaddy , November 5, 2008 1:39 PM
    Both ladies are quite lovely. If I recall correctly wasn't it Tamara whom graced the last two years as the xmas model?
  • -1 Hide
    xsamitt , November 5, 2008 1:46 PM
    How do you find The Samsung T220 picture wise and lag?
  • 0 Hide
    zak_mckraken , November 5, 2008 2:08 PM
    Quote:
    How do you find The Samsung T220 picture wise and lag?


    While not the "perfect" monitor, it's definitely one of the best (if not the best) 22 inches monitor around. The colors are rich and true, the contrast is sharp and I haven't notice any lag at all, although I only play World of Warcraft and watch some Divx. Still, the difference was amazing when I switched my old Philips 19" with it! I'm pretty sure the same quality would apply on a fast-paced FPS or a Blu-Ray HD movie. However, I would recommend the T240 if you intend to use your monitor to watch full HD content. Samsung also offer the same models with HD at the end (T220HD) which has a integrated tuner, if you're into that stuff.
  • 0 Hide
    cruiseoveride , November 5, 2008 3:47 PM
    blond++;

    Santa Baby, a 30" Samsung TFT too, dark grey with a blond elf. I've been an awfully good girl.
  • 0 Hide
    KITH , November 5, 2008 3:52 PM
    I recently purchased the samsung t260hd it along with the t240hd are a couple of the only ways to get an hdtv with that small of a screen still with 1080p support.
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