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Dane-Elec So G Stream
When we first heard of Dane-Elec's arrival on the media player scene we were rather excited. Its G Stream was set to cost the same as the much loved Western Digital WDTV and use the same chipset yet also include built-in Wi-Fi. This sounded like a killer combination of features so as quick as possible we've got one in for review. Unfortunately, it's turned out to be a bit of a let down.
Aesthetically, we couldn't have been happier. Its top and sides are black in all the right ways and the silver strip that runs round the top is a perfect little highlight. Its super slim profile also means it stands a better chance of squeezing in among your DVD player, Sky box, and receiver than many of its rivals. Being quite wide it also looks more at home, and less toy-like, among all the above boxes.
The build quality is also exceptional with both the top and bottom panels finished in painted metal rather than the usual plastic. This makes it feel very strong and also gives it that all important plus point of just feeling nice, a measure that can be overlooked all too often. This solidity does make the G Stream markedly heavier than many of its rivals but, frankly, we couldn't care less about this in an AV device.
Looking round the device we see yet more positives, including a satisfyingly tactile power button on the top towards the front right. We also like the addition of a multi-format memory card reader on the left edge. This sits alongside a more customary USB port and provides instant access to SD, MMC, and MS memory cards so you can bypass a computer and watch your pictures and video clips straight from your camera.
On the rear is an aerial socket for that all important Wi-Fi (an aerial is included in the box) and accompanying it, from right to left, are sockets and ports for Ethernet, optical digital audio, stereo analogue audio, composite video, HDMI, and power. We're glad to see Dane-Elec didn't decide to go for just Wi-Fi and added in a wired network connection as well. Not only does this provide greater flexibility but also file transfers will be much quicker over 100Gbps Ethernet than 802.11g Wi-Fi.
Remotes can so often disappoint by being generally cheap looking, poorly laid out, or just unresponsive and difficult to use, but we were pleasantly surprised to find this one to be a good size, not offensive to the eye, logically laid out, and responsive. The only significant fault is an apparent lack of a home button which necessitates pressing the 'Return' button multiple times to get back to the home screen.