In recent years the market has welcomed an assortment of new media streamers and servers designed to feed our hunger for more content. They generally fall into two camps: those that pull content from the Web and those that collect and sort the user’s own content. The Nixeus Fusion HD is a little bit of both.
The Fusion HD is an especially interesting device because it was designed with expandability in mind. With about two minute’s work, you can turn it from a media streaming device into a media storage device by adding a SATA hard drive. It supports drives up to 2TBs, which will satisfy most music collections easily. Other media devices allow expansion, but the Fusion HD was built for it—the top pops off revealing a drive bay. I literally had the top off and a drive installed in two minutes.
In addition to being an ideal place for your digital music, pictures and video collection, the Fusion gives you access to some web-based media. The selection of services isn’t anywhere near as comprehensive as other media boxes such as Roku or Boxee, but staples like Flicker, Youtube, Live 365 and a few others are included. Netflix and Pandora are not on the list, which might be a deal-breaker for many people.
There are several internet video options on the Fusion, but they’re odd ones. You can get news from the Georgia (the country, not the state), sports from Brazil, music videos from The Netherlands and several content choices from China. What about ESPN? Fox? Nope. You’ll have to settle for a Chinese Kung Fu channel if you want online movies. Some of these choices might be great for foreigners living in the US, but quality and reliability wasn’t, well, reliable.
If you’re not focused on the walled gardens of web services, there’s a functional web browser included. The browser allows for basic web page viewing, Facebook and Twitter posting and such, but Hulu.com didn’t work at all for me, nor did any of the web-based music services I tried.
But the web isn’t really what the Fusion is all about. Its main purpose is to get your own content—the content you own (yes, people do still own content these days) away from your PC and into your entertainment system. And it does that task very well.
First, getting to your content via the Fusion navigation menu is intuitive and logical. At the top of your display screen you’ll see a row of icons that correspond to all the content areas (web, hard drive, USB drive, networked drive). When you select an icon, you see a drop-down list of options. When you select a drive, you’ll see folders where your content is located.
If you don’t have a hard drive installed, the next best place for content is a networked drive, and the Fusion supports DLNA for accessing drives over your network. My unit immediately found networked drive and allowed me to navigate the variety of music, picture and video files stored on it. When available, album art is displayed on the TV when playing music. All of the music and video files I played looked and sounded good, and there was only minimal delay when accessing files from networked drives.
The Fusion is a fairly versatile product, and the ability to expand it with an internal drive (there’s also a port for an external (eSATA) hard drive, as well as USB drives and DLNA drives, means that you’ll have to work very hard to run out of storage space. The online offerings are limited compared to the competition from devices like Ruku XD, Boxee and Western Digital Live Hub, and it’s a bit more expensive than those as well. It’s less expensive than Logitech’s GoogleTV Revue, and the Revue doesn’t have all the drive options, but the Fusion also isn’t the web-service device that Revue was designed to be. The Nixeus does support DVD files (either from a hard drive or a USB DVD drive) and even allows you to download content via BitTorrent directly onto a connected drive.
Whether the Fusion is the product for you will depend on what you primarily want from a media device. There are several other products that offer more or different media options, but the Fusion performed well and did what it promised it would do.
Nixeus Fusion HD
$219 w/hard drive
$279 with 2TB HDD
Full HD 1080 Playback up to 1080p60hz
DLNA 1.5 Certified and UPnP 1.0 Compliant
DTS 2.0 Digital Out and Dolby Digital Certified
Real-time Weather and Clock
YouTube, Fusion Channel, RSS, Flickr, Live 365, and SHOUTcast
BitTorrent - Built-in BitTorrent Client torrent files
USB 2.0 Host and Client Support
Supports Serial ATA (SATA II/3G up to 2 TB) hard drives
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Grant Clauser has been covering home electronics for more than 10 years with editorial roles in several consumer and trade magazines. He's done ISF-level damage to hundreds of reviewed products and has had training from THX, the Home Acoustics Alliance, Control4 and Sencore. His latest book is Necessary Myths
. Follow him on Twitter @geclauser.