A Closer Look
The Fantasy is a small device. A little bit larger than the size of my palm. This makes it easy to store wherever you want. You will still need to make sure the unit is visible as the remote is IR and needs a line of sight for control. Because the unit is so small it is able to be passively cooled. There are no fans in the unit so it operates silently. On the front of the unit we have a USB 2.0 port and a SD card slot. It’s not a big deal that the Fantasy doesn’t have USB 3.0 as any video file that the device will be able to play will never exceed the 480 Mb/s throughput of USB 2.0. Installing USB 3.0 would be a waste of hardware on this device. The Fantasy will read both NTFS and FAT32 formatted drives, so you won’t have any issues reading large movie files. It’s not uncommon for people to keep their library of movies on a large external hard drive just for the sake of easy transportation. It’s just a simple matter of plugging the drive in and watching.
On the back of the unit we can see the HDMI and optical SPDIF ports. This is what allows the Fantasy to output Dolby Digital and DTS audio. It can also just dump out the RAW audio stream if you have an amplifier that can decode it. The A/V output uses a type of 3.5mm jack that is standard for many other portable media devices.
For our testing, we went with a “did not read the manual” approach, as many consumers don’t read the manuals either. Honestly, there wasn’t a problem. The menus are laid out intelligently and the interface is very simple to use. I plugged the Fantasy into the TV via HDMI and into the amplifier via SPDIF. Our test video is a 1080P version of Iron Man. The Fantasy is able to output audio on both HDMI and SPDIF at once in case you want to use your TV as a type of center speaker in your home theater setup. The amplifier that was hooked up was able to process the DTS audio stream that the movie had, once I switched the output format to RAW.
Picture quality was very good. The fantasy was able to read the subtitle track in our Iron Man video. As you can see in the images below the subtitle menu allows you to customize the way they are displayed on screen from the height to the color and even the location on screen. This is very useful for anime enthusiasts that like to watch their shows with Japanese audio and English subtitles.
Speaking of anime, many times these kinds of videos have alternate audio tracks. The Fantasy is able to handle multiple audio tracks like a champ. We did run into some issue with the type of subtitles that the unit could play. It was able play embedded SRT subtitles, found in majority of video files, but it wouldn’t play embedded PGS subtitles. PGS subtitles are the kind that are found natively in Blu-ray movies. Many scene release groups that upload ripped movies go through the trouble of converting the PGS subtitles into SRT for you, so if you do that kind of thing, you probably won’t run into issues. There are also plenty of tutorials online about how to convert PGS subtitles to SRT. There shouldn’t be any reason why Hornettek can’t add support for PGS subtitles with a firmware update.
Hornettek has done a good job in making sure that their core feature set works the way it should. There are plenty of media players out there that claim to support MKV extension files, but only support them in a very limited capacity. The amount of file types and codecs that the Fantasy supports is quite staggering for such a small device. I can see this being a gift that you could get your mom so she can watch home movies and show picture slideshows to the family. It’s simple and works great. I really liked all of the options that it gives you for subtitles, you just don’t see that in many media players. Because the Fantasy doesn’t have all the networking components that other media players have, Hornettek is able to offer it at a much cheaper price. For it’s simplicity and ability to properly implement its feature set, the Hornettek Fantasy Media Player gets our seal of approval.