Zidoo UHD3000 4K UHD Media Player Review
Tony O'Brien & Marc Rushton audition this classy looking, single-box 4K UHD media player…
UHD3000 4K UHD Media Player
AUD $1,699 RRP
As elegant as streaming is, it still can't quite hold a candle to physical media in terms of video and audio quality. And if you've invested in a decent home cinema, 'quality' really is the name of the game.
But if you're still in love with the idea of a digital catalogue of movies, the answer is to have full uncompressed digital rips of Blu-ray discs. And while there are several solutions available to aid in this process, for now, they are far from what we'd call elegant or straightforward to set up and use. Enter the Zidoo UHD3000 4K Media Player. Similar in size and appearance to a 4K Blu-ray player, it's finished in brushed black aluminium with a centrally mounted LED display.
Reminiscent of the late, great OPPO UDP-203 in terms of build quality and appearance, the Zidoo has a minimalistic interface that oozes quality. Despite its good looks, it's also highly functional – the front aluminium panel opens to reveal a power button, two USB 2.0 inputs, and the twin hard drive bays, each of which supports HDDs of up to 16TB capacity.
Round the back are two HDMI 2.0 outputs, the first of which supports 4K HDR10, HLG, HDR10+ and Dolby Vision. The second HDMI output is reserved for audio, making the UHD3000 compatible with older AV receivers. Here you'll also find stereo XLR inputs, stereo DAC output, optical and coaxial digital audio outputs, an analogue video output, two USB 3.0 inputs, a USB audio input (USB B), RS 232 input and an IR input. The UHD 3000 can connect networks via its LAN input or wirelessly with the included antennas.
Internally, it comes equipped with a Realtek RTD1619 DR hexa-core 64-bit A55 CPU and 4G DDR4 RAM and 32GB eMMC. This particular model, the flagship in this category, also features independent toroidal power supplies for its digital and analogue circuitry. Claimed to provide “audiophile monitor-level sound quality”, the analogue output board uses immersion gold technology with hand-picked components. It's rounded out with an ESS 32-bit HyperStream ESS9068 DAC.
The UHD3000 supports all the newest audio codecs from Dolby and DTS, in addition to decoding DSD512/PCM 768KHz 32-bit/MQA SACD ISO (stereo), DSF, DFF, WAV and FLAC. Built upon the Android platform, it's also compatible with Windows 7 and 10, and MAC. It also ships with a remote control, power cord, HDMI cable and user manual. The largish remote control is well laid out with clear, easy-to-read buttons, whereas the manual, on the other hand, can be hard to follow.
Zidoo offers two versions of its (regularly updated) firmware for this model – one includes the Google Play Store, the other does not – which leads us to a point of clarification that is needed. What the UHD3000 is not is an internet streaming player. While you can install apps from the Play Store, such as Netflix, Kayo, Stan etc., they simply do not work. We can understand why this firmware version with store access is offered, though, as there are many other app-based utilities that are beneficial. For example, some of the IP TV apps do work, as do some questionable torrent aggregators that stream video, but if you're looking to use the mainstream video-on-demand apps, stick with an Nvidia Shield or Apple TV, for example. Our advice is to choose the non-Google firmware version.
Where the Zidoo does excel is its ability to catalogue and stream locally stored media, either on its internal HDDs or via a local network. Think of it as a poor man's Kaleidescape, except you don't need to illegally bypass geolocation restrictions and licensing laws, and you can load your own movies without purchasing them from its store.
If you've had previous experience with media servers, setting up the UHD3000 is a comparative breeze. Rather than using the internal drive bays, I opted to use an external NAS. Powering up the UHD3000, I was greeted with a slick black and white interface. From here, there are options to access the Poster Wall, Music Player, and apps in addition to the File Manager and Settings Menu. The latter offers a formidable range of video options, and it's worth spending some time here before diving into movies. For instance, the HDMI port used for audio needs to be specified, and it's advisable to enable Auto Frame Rate to lock on to the original frame rate and resolution. Interestingly, the Colour Settings options only contain options for YUV and RGB. As YUV is the analogue equivalent of YCbCr, it's safe to assume that this is a misnomer and, as such, treat the various YUV options as YCbCr.
The UHD300 can also convert HDR to SDR, which will be helpful to some projector owners and those with legacy equipment. In contrast, the HDR menu presents options for mapping HDR10 and Dolby Vision content before being sent to the display. Videophiles and tweakers will be in heaven with the number of configuration options available, but be sure you know what you are doing, or you'll be searching out the Factory Reset feature in no time!
There's also an extensive range of options within the Poster Wall settings to specify how you view your digital library. Here you customise everything from the style of the interface to poster size, through to which movies you've watched, or filter just 4K resolution titles or those with HDR and Dolby Atmos. The possibilities are endless.
In addition to a synopsis and information on the cast, clicking on a tile starts a trailer – in addition to technical information regarding the movie, such as resolution, frame rate, audio and video codecs and if it uses HDR or Dolby Vision.
With a complete rip of the Ultra HD 4K Blu-ray disc of No Time to Die cued up, the Zidoo produced beautifully saturated, sharp images. As good as the picture was, I was surprised to discover it couldn't quite match the physical disc in sharpness.
While this could have come down to the source I was using for direct comparison – a Panasonic UB9000 4K Blu-ray Player – I doubt it. In fairness, though, there wasn't a big difference between the two on my 100-inch projection screen, and most won't notice, particularly if they haven't got a disc player to make a back-to-back comparison with. Naturally, it will also come down to the screen size, and there would be less if any difference on a smaller TV screen.
What you do get is uninterrupted, trouble-free playback with full resolution output and no annoying HDMI handshake or codec issues, unlike our experience with Plex, Emby, Kodi and other similar software platforms. While we appreciate that other platforms do work, they require quite a bit of technical expertise, and the user experience is often clunky at the best of times. There's also no need to run a “server” full-time as is needed with Plex and others.
Compared to its more direct competitor, Zappiti, the Zidoo is more polished in its user interface. It also avoids any of the HDMI handshake issues we experienced with our AVR and projector that even Zappiti's official support channels could not resolve. Your mileage here may vary, of course. In contrast, turn the Zidoo on, and away you go – plug and play!
Built like a tank, the Zidoo UHD3000 is very much at home in a rack of high-end components. There's been one in-situ in our own cinema for over two years now, and aside from running firmware updates from time to time, it has performed admirably. Although it doesn't quite match a direct comparison to physical media, it is light years ahead in terms of convenience and sheer coolness, and that alone is more than enough to win us over. Compared to other media players, this is definitely ahead of the pack. Everything you need from one is here; more importantly, it works right out of the box.
As the owner of Adelaide based ‘Clarity Audio & Video Calibration’, Tony is a certified ISF Calibrator. Tony is an accomplished Audio-Visual reviewer specialising in theatre and visual products.
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