Ziova CS505

I don't think my next-door neighbour Phil would mind me describing him as a videophile. He was one of the first people I know to get a digital settop box (and confirm that it made a huge difference to the quality of the TV reception in our area).

Phil doesn't have Internet access, but he'd heard about the Zensonic z500 high definition network DVD media player, and asked me to print out some specs for him to review. While doing that I discovered that Zensonic had changed their name to Ziova, and also had released a new model, the CS505.

So yesterday Phil dropped around and told me he'd gone ahead and bought a CS505. He still had a couple of questions though:

Can you save videos to a hard disk via the USB port?

It looks like the answer is "No". You can use the USB port to upgrade firmware (more about that shortly), or you can play movies from it, but it looks like the CS505 is only a player, not a recorder.

Can you update the firmware?

"Yes", though it is a little involved.

After reviewing the device settings, Phil's machine had shipped with firmware version 1.1.1. To get access to firmware updates, you need to register your device (I did this on Phil's behalf). First register with the Ziova Support Forums then use the same login for My Ziova, where you need to enter your device details (make sure you get the serial number and both MAC addresses correct!)

Once that is done, you'll see that there's a firmware upgrade to version 2.0.1. Don't be fooled by the text that says "use the recovery CD" though! The only way to upgrade from version 1 to version 2 is to use a USB 2 device (flash drive or hard disk). Trust me, I tried to use the CD, and (like others found), that doesn't work.

I was a bit worried (especially as this wasn't my device!), and I didn't have a USB2-capable flash drive on hand (they are quite specific that it needs to be USB 2). Then I realised that I'd recently received a 75Gb external drive from Microsoft (with lots of training material for the 2008 product launches). 10 minutes later, I'd copied all the content onto my home PC. Follow these steps to get the external drive setup correctly:

  1. Download and extract the Recover Version 2.0.1 zip file.
  2. Remove the external drive.
  3. Run RecoveryUSBMaker.exe
  4. Re-insert the external drive
  5. RecoveryUSBMaker.exe should now detect the external drive and offer to reformat it.
  6. Wait for it to finish, then you're good to go.

You can then plug the drive into the CS505 and restart the player to being the firmware update process. It does take a few minutes, so give it a while.

Did it make a difference?

The first thing we noticed was that the menu "theme" had changed. It seemed a bit smaller, but as I said to Phil, that might be because they've added more options to the screen. It all seemed to be ok, so I said goodnight and we left it at that.

This morning Phil dropped by again. Had something gone wrong? No, he was over the moon! He wanted to thank me for my help, as he assured me he could see a noticeable improvement in the video quality and was now extremely satisfied with his purchase.

It's nice to have a happy ending :-)

Written on March 18, 2008