Though it offered networking and a TV tuner to elevate it above the original WD TV Media Player, due mainly to its lack of format support we weren't too impressed with Emtec's Movie Cube S800. With its focus on digital TV and recording to a docked 2.5in drive, can the P800 make a better impression?
Emtec refers to the P800 main unit as a Docking Station because instead of an internal storage option, it features a slot in the top meant to hold the included Emtec 2.5in hard drive, which does rather limit the unit's orientation options.
We like the Docking Station's two-tone black-and-white finish, which is more rugged than that found on the S800. Though the white finish is glossy it doesn't pick up fingerprints, and the black part of the unit is sensibly matt and textured. On the front is a nicely-integrated set of blue-backlit icons that show power, recording and music-playing states.
Connectivity is truly excellent. Aside from the external 2.5in hard drive slot at its top, this Movie Cube has a USB port and unusually, a memory card reader on its side which accepts SD/SDHC, MMC and MS-Pro. At the back we find a second USB port, 10/100 Ethernet, HDMI, optical and coaxial digital audio, composite in and out, component out and finally the tuner's aerial socket.
However, all is not rosy. The hard drive slot has a proprietary connector that only works with Emtec's Gdium-branded 2.5in drives (though you can plug other brands in using the USB connections on the back), and the HDMI port is only version 1.1. Build quality is also unimpressive, with the flap covering the drive slot showing obvious signs of wear after only a few insertions. The plastics for the casing also creak noticeably, and the small chromed power button on the side occasionally gets stuck after being pressed, requiring you to coax it back into its standard position.
Similarly the provided remote looks impressive but in use there are a few niggles. While layout is fairly logical, some of the main controls are a tad stiff and its thin body isn't exactly comfortable in the hand. Worse are the twin CR2032 cell batteries it uses, which are difficult to obtain and more expensive than the AAs or AAAs found in most remotes, and also eliminate the possibility of using rechargeable ones.