SO CLOSE, AND YET…

Finweek English Edition - - Communication & Technology - BENE­DICT KELLY

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.

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