Wow, almost 9 months have passed since my last post so it is time to add a new post that is long overdue. I mentioned in that post that I would talk about other attributes of a media player and I have actually forgotten what they were. What I can think of now is the user interface and firmware updates.
Before that, just an update on the Realtek 1073DD/1283DD chipset. The main problems with these chipset is that they cannot passthrough Dolby True HD and DTS-HD MA audio. To remedy this, Realtek released enhanced versions of these chipsets called 1073DD+/1283DD+ so if playing these HD audio files are important for you, go for players with these Realtek chipsets. The Sigma 864x and 865x chipsets can already support these HD audio formats so no issue for Sigma players using these chipsets.
For the lower end (i.e. inexpensive) media players, the user interface is pretty basic and more or less the same. Usually it will allow you to change settings for the system, the video and the audio to suit you own preference and requirement. Then there will be menus to select your photo, music and video/movie files for playback and also for simple file management like copying and deleting files. The more expensive players will have more elaborate user interface that are more appealing to some users.
The above are mainly cosmetic but more important is the support in terms of firmware update. User will come across problems for playing some media files and the manufacturers will come out with new firmware versions to overcome these problems. Thus it is important that the players that you buy come with this support apart from the physical support of repairs and maintenance. Make sure it is not one that is here today but gone tomorrow and there are plenty of these, mainly coming from China.
All players will also come with a remote control, ranging from teeny tiny ones to full size versions. So the choice is yours but most low-end players do not have any control buttons on the player itself (apart from the power on/off button) so a reliable remote control is important to keep you in business.
A common complaint is that the fan that is normally built-in a player is noisy and spoils the listening pleasure. So some come without fan but run the risk of over-heating. Realtek has come out recently with a new chipset that runs cooler. This is the R1055 but the downside is that this does not support networking so not Wifi or LAN enabled. For users who only play media files from a HDD, this is not an issue so they should consider players using this 1055 chipset since it will be cheaper than those with network support. And also dead quiet since there is no need for a fan for cooling. Anyway, let your ears be the judge as far as fan noise is concerned.
There is now a wide range of HD Media Player in the market. So choosing a media player can be quite daunting. To make it easier, first you must know what you need it for and then check the specs for what it can do. If they match, go for the one within your budget after considering all the other factors mentioned. Good luck.