So, you know what it’s called and you know how much it costs but the question is, what exactly is a multimedia HDD box and what can it do for me/you/anyone?
Everything and nothing is the answer. On the surface, it’s an excellent product. It’s small, it’s portable, the 250GB HDD detaches while the flash drive in the main body of the unit will keep on recording regardless. You can connected it via just about any cable you’ve got to whatever kind of screen you like and you can plug in all manner of USBs and SD cards to play off or record onto.
The trouble with the Emtec P800, though, is the detail but, then, that is reflected in the very reasonable price. It’s not perfect yet and they admit it. It doesn’t play as many file types as it should. There’s no support for MP4 and AAC which wipes out a lot of people’s audio and video files in one stroke. The EPG allows you to set recordings of live TV onto whichever disc you like but there’s no series linking possible.
Worst of all, though, is the music dump that is just that. There’s no cataloguing function and the tracks are listed by whatever weird and wonderful names you Kazaad them under back in the day. It’s not the most user friendly box in the world.
On the plus side it offers web radio via Wi-Fi, twin tuners – digital and analogue – and you can even use it to “back up” your DVDs. Nice.
From first inspection, I’d say you’re getting good value for money here but a few pence more might source something that doesn’t bug. At the same time, I fully expect Emtec to get it right in time for the next generation.
Over Christmas I ate a lot of turkey, drank a lot of wine, and fiddled endlessly with this – the Emtec S800 movie cube. I’ll break it to you now – it’s not a cube – but it is a great little home entertainment set-top-box that lets you stream video over a network and record television.
Not one for the technophobic amongst you, but if you like tinkering with your AV setup then it comes highly recommended. It costs £230 and the company claims it’s available now from Dixons, but I certainly can’t see it on the site, or anywhere else for that matter. If you know where you can buy it in the UK, drop us a line in the comments.
If you want to pump your television viewing experience up to the next level, you might be considering some sort of PVR, or set top box. It’s called a Movie Cube, but I’ve no idea why, because as you can see in the picture above, it’s clearly not a cube. Still, I can overlook that because the specs are surprisingly impressive.
It contains a 500GB hard drive, which will hold 600 or so feature-length movies. It’ll record TV, like a PVR, as well as convert your old videos and DVDs into digital formats – useful for people who don’t like maintaining a vast library of DVDs.
Best of all, it’s networkable, with Ethernet and Wi-Fi built it. That means you’ll be able to stream your content over the network from your Windows or Mac computer. You’ll be able to enjoy all those episodes of Heroes that you’ve downloaded off Bittorrent on your big-screen TV, rather than your little laptop screen.
In terms of formats, it’ll play back MPEG, DivX, XviD, MP3, WAV, and JPG. It’s got a lil’ screen on the front in case you’re streaming stuff to a stereo without your TV on. It’ll upscale video to 720p, has extensive subtitle support, even on DivX files, and has upgradable firmware. All-in-all, a tremendously useful little box.
I’m getting one in for a proper review, so keep an eye out for that. If you’re convinced just by the above, however, then it’ll be available to buy from Dixons in December. It’ll cost £230. Seems, on paper, to be a decent price for a decent device. I’m looking forward to playing with it in person.