SO CLOSE, AND YET…
MEDIA PLAYERS THAT ALLOW you to watch computer files on your TV are a fickle lot. Some are great but others are completely awful. For the most part they tend to do one thing well and everything else either awfully or in the most mediocre fashion possible. Sadly, the Emtec MovieCube falls into the middle field when it comes to features.
First the good news: it has a 500GB hard drive and the ability to record as well as play back. So if you want a bit of PVR ability without having to go the whole official DStv route, this may be an option to consider. I found it works really well and while I wasn’t using it to record TV, I found it’s a great way to convert DVDs to a format easier to access than fiddling through hundreds to find the one you want. Even more useful if you have small children who want to watch the same movie over and over and over again.
There’s also a nice interface when you first start up that lets you choose between watching the video in signal, playing back your recordings or browsing other media. There’s also the capacity to add media from a memory card or browse USB storage devices and even networked drives.
Playing back other media isn’t quite as good. The interface is a folder-browsing viewer and is decidedly clunky. Sometimes it fails to pick up the files and, due to the way it displays them, it’s hard to see exactly which video file you’ve selected. It does have a preview window, but I found that takes a while to display, something that’s a trifle irritating. But once the video is playing back, many of the irritations fade as the system comes into its own.
Emtec seems to have done a great job of the basics but still needs to put in a lot of work in making the content stored on the drive more accessible. Sadly, that’s something few companies have got right, so I won’t be holding my breath.