Home-grown distro, Corbell Technology, is a familiar name to many members of our community. With brands like MSI, Corsair and Seasonic in its stable of products, it has established itself as a discerning firm when it comes to picking the brands to sell locally. Which makes its latest venture, an in-house product called the Cayenne Funbox Wi-Fi portable media player, a bit of a surprise .
Don't bother Googling for Cayenne. As far as we can tell, it's a new brand and product that has been sourced by Corbell. What we do know is that its package came with only Corbell's name on it. We can also tell you that its name is quite the misnomer.
While it's relatively light, this media player is not exactly what one expects from a portable media player. It can run on four AA batteries in a pinch, though we tested it with an AC adapter (through a miniUSB port) but the form factor is not at all portable. Sure, you can stow it in a haversack but it's closer to your alarm clock radio than your iPod.
It reminds us of Sony's Dash, in a very distant cousin sort of way. For one, both devices have Wi-Fi and rely on the internet for its content, from internet radio to podcasts and TV shows. Cayenne claims up to 12,000 such channels are available, from the BBC to CCTV. These are sorted by region, which break further down into countries. Another option is to sort by genre. SHOUTcast is also supported.
The only problem we foresee here is that the list of these internet channels seem to be preloaded by the vendor and there didn't seem a way for users to add any. There is however an option to update the firmware through the internet, which could be a way to update the channel listings. Currently, this didn't seem to be working; it could be a lack of a new firmware, but again it's not too clear though the interface.
There are certainly more than enough channels to overwhelm us during our short test, but your mileage may vary when it comes to the quality. We tried a handful of internet TV streams and most of them were prone to constant buffering and lag. It could be our network, in which case the software should have allowed for a greater amount of buffering as the start and stop experience is less ideal than a longer initial wait.
Internet radio fared much better and we could get decent performance with little lag for most of the channels we tried. Ironically, local internet radio channels like FM98.7 suffered from more lag than some obscure, foreign ones. Compared to a notebook streaming the same channel on the same Wi-Fi network, the Cayenne had more instances of lag. The Cayenne also supports UPnP, so it could technically be used to get content over the network from your UPnP server, provided that everything has been setup properly. A remote control is included, and you'll also need it for navigation, as well as some of the more advanced features like bookmarking a channel as a Favorite.
Viewing content through the SD card was a bit slow, even for images and from what we could tell, there was no way to transfer files between the SD card and the internal memory. Again, the internal memory has been populated for us for review but we have no idea how this was done. The media player supports a variety of media formats including loseless FLAC and even MKV, but with the small screen, we don't expect users to be watching too many videos. Especially when the two speakers are barely adequate for extended viewing.
Besides the entertainment aspect, the Cayenne comes with a feature that's its most useful in our opinion - an alarm clock. We could set a schedule for the alarm so that it won't wake you up on weekends when you're not working.
Corbell hasn't revealed the pricing for this alarm clock/radio/media player all-in-one device, though we heard that it will be launched during SITEX 2010. Based on what we have seen, it had better be affordable. From its build quality to the features, we think that this is at best an alarm and radio for your bedside. The Wi-Fi aspect may work, but we don't think there are valid reasons to use the internet streaming for anything but internet radio due to the lag and AV quality.