Tom's Holiday Buyer's Guide 2008, Part 1

Thecus M3800 Media Storage and Playback Device
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 ( 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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  • ravenware
    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.
  • Portall
    Nope. You won't see difference between 8 and 4ms :)
  • V3NOM
    well you can... CRT vs LCD is quite clear.
  • cangelini
    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!
  • Anonymous
    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:
  • radnor
    Well, you will actually. If you ever seen them side by side you will notice the difference. 5ms seems to be the sweet spot.
  • LazyGarfield
    Interesting article! I´m still looking for the two beautiful women but cant find them :P
  • Anonymous
    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.
  • Anonymous
    what happened to the really cute girl you guys had last year ?
  • xsamitt
    I think I'd take the 30 inch dell if it was free......Guess I won't be having one now for
    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.
  • Anonymous
    What happened to the great girl from last year? The blond on here looks strung out and or too gothy for a Christmas ad.
  • Anonymous
    Ugly girls...
  • zak_mckraken
    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.
  • jameshan2k
    I usually don't go for blondes, but the blonde is quite nice....
  • zak_mckraken
    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.
  • crockdaddy
    Both ladies are quite lovely. If I recall correctly wasn't it Tamara whom graced the last two years as the xmas model?
  • xsamitt
    How do you find The Samsung T220 picture wise and lag?
  • zak_mckraken
    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.
  • cruiseoveride

    Santa Baby, a 30" Samsung TFT too, dark grey with a blond elf. I've been an awfully good girl.
  • KITH
    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.