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Digital Stream DPS-1000 review

Onyx brings iPlayer, Lovefilm and YouTube for less than an Apple TV, but where's the Wi-Fi?

Our Verdict

An attractive, compact and content-rich set-top box alternative to replacing your telly. The Onyx interface is excellent.

For

  • Excellent content
  • Nicely designed interface
  • Low price

Against

  • No built-in WiFi
  • Occasionally slow
  • Poor remote

Ease of use

Some online services can be slow to load and skipping back a page can take a few too many seconds, but overall the Onyx interface on the DPS-1000 is very impressive indeed.

Digital stream dps-1000

The problems we had were primarily hardware-related. Most troublesome is the remote control, which is nicely weighted at one end, but otherwise poorly manufactured. It suffers from the all too common mistake of a button for every command, which means that not only are they all bunched-up, they're also too small to use easily.

As if to underline the budget nature of what will most probably be an unwelcome guest on your coffee table, the battery compartment of the remote rattles. Yuk.

The DPS-1000 has Wi-Fi, of course it does – why would anyone consider a media streamer without Wi-Fi? Except, of course, that it doesn't.

We're into dongle territory, though Digital Stream doesn't actually make one (various third party dongles work, apparently, though not the Xbox 360 dongle that we had to hand). It does, however, explain why there are two USB ports on the rear of the unit.

Digital stream dps-1000

Lovefilm's search function is effective, though it presents dynamically changing results based on every letter you add to the search term, which slows the process. More impressive is the way the box searches both YouTube and any networked PC or Mac, producing – for instance – some of your own ripped or purchased music alongside videos from the internet.

Sound

The lack of Wi-Fi consigns the DPS-1000 only to living rooms with routers, but there's another reason why this piece of kit won't be suited to all AV set-ups or home cinemas.

Audio output is severely restricted to the Scart and HDMI outputs, so unless you have a modern AV receiver in your home cinema with HDMI switching, you're out of luck with surround sound. And even with sound in general if you have a projector.

Picture

Digital stream dps-1000

Picture quality from streaming video varies primarily because, like most similar platforms, that annoying buffering has been completely banished. Like Sony's connected TVs and Blu-ray players, the Onyx browser uses adaptive streaming technology that dynamically changes the amount of video data it receives via streaming according to how fast the line is.

That does mean the occasional drop in picture quality if you have, say, a 2MB broadband connection, but to our eyes that's a small price to pay for no buffering.

Value

What we do like about the DPS-1000 is its Apple TV-like size; this is not a piece of kit that's going to dominate your set-up. It's certainly more polished and, crucially, content-rich than most connected TVs.

While we expect that to change on the latest haul of high-end TVs, this £90 gadget seems an attractive alternative to replacing your telly. Bear in mind, though, that it does replicate a lot of the services on a PS3 or Wii.

You could, of course, spend an extra tenner and get an Apple TV, with iPhone niceties and built-in Wi-Fi. The choice is yours, but don't let the traditionally peerless Apple interface sway you, because Onyx has arguably topped it.

Tech Specs

Product TypeSet-top Box
Scan Format1080i
EthernetYes
USBYes
HDMIYes
Video Signal StandardSDTV, HDTV
SCARTYes
Aspect Ratio Supported16:9
Sound SystemDolby Digital
Brand NameDigital Stream
Service TypeBBC iPlayer
Green CompliantYes
Green Compliance Certificate/AuthorityWEEE
Operating Power Consumption11 W
Number of SCART Interfaces1
Network (RJ-45)Yes
Number of HDMI Outputs1
Height35 mm
Width170 mm
Depth125 mm
Audio FormatsAC3, WMA, AAC+
ManufacturerDigital Stream Technology Inc
Product ModelDPS-1000
Product NameDPS-1000 Set-top Box
Video FormatsMPEG-1, MPEG-2, MPEG-3, MPEG-4, AVC, WMV9, VC-1, H.264
Input Voltage12 V DC
Manufacturer Part NumberDPS1000
Manufacturer Website Addresshttp://www.dstreamtech.com
Weight (Approximate)1 kg