As our digital multimedia consumption continues to increase, the desire to have everything stored in, or at least accessible from, a single location is becoming ever more prevalent. From digital TV to mp3 collections and downloaded films to Internet radio, all these things on their own are well and good but the true holy grail is having a single box (and remote) that can control the lot.
Enter, then, the Emtec Movie Cube S800. This sleek black and white box incorporates a twin digital and analogue TV tuner with PVR capabilities, a 500GB hard drive for storing all your music and videos on, and both wired and wireless network connections for sharing your content around the home and tuning into Internet radio stations. So, on the surface, it would appear to have just about all (baring DAB radio, and video streaming) the digital multimedia bases covered. However, as we'll see later, these initial impressions don't really hold up once you delve a little deeper.
As soon as you get it out of the box, the S800 makes an impact. While the two-tone styling and relatively short and fat stance (compared to conventional AV equipment) may not be to everyone's liking, and the plastic outer panels not that resistant to scratches, the overall impression is one of quality. There are no creaks or flexing panels on show as you manhandle the device and the back panel looks and feels solid with its multitude of clearly labelled connections arranged neatly in a tough steel plate.
Picking out a few of the more interesting connections, you'll see that the S800 has an HDMI socket, which will be all the outputs most people will need, I'm sure. If not, there are composite and component video, and coaxial, optical and analogue stereo audio outputs. There's even that golden-oldie, SCART, so no matter how old your TV you should be able to hook this box up to it. As well as the outputs, there's inputs for composite video and stereo audio. Also of note is the TV aerial socket at the bottom and the USB sockets at the top.
You'll also notice the small fan at the rear. This is the main method of ventilation for this box, along with half a dozen slits in the bottom, and as such it gets spinning reasonably fast when you've been working the S800 hard. Fortunately the resultant noise isn't too intrusive and you'll certainly notice noise from the hard drive over and above it. Not that the hard drive is particularly noisy but we did notice it when the S800 was just sat next to our telly and we were sat on our sofa. If you were to hide it away in a TV cabinet or tuck it into a corner, the disturbance should be minimal.