Review Price free/subscription
Thermaltake Media LAB - Thermaltake Media LAB
The software that controls the whole kit is called iMedian and is actually freely available from SoundGraph. However, to get the most out of it, it is designed to work with a remote control.
The remote control itself can work as a mouse, and a virtual keyboard is included, but I found the controller had a bit of a mind of its own and I couldn't get much in the way of accuracy at all - but to be fair that's not really what it's designed for. It is also possible that my unit was faulty though, as it tended to want to float to the top of the screen. It worked best when inside the bundled software, where clicking up, down, left and right sufficed - just like in Media Center.
The software has a very intuitive interface and before long I had all of my videos and music added to the interface.
In this case, I'm just using some of the sample footage we use for testing TVs in the TrustedReviews office.
When playing media, you can do all the normal things, like play, pause, rewind and fast forward. But there is even an “aspect ratio” button. This is great if you're running an S-Video cable to a widescreen television. This will generally be at 1,024 x 768 and videos won't look quite right, but you can quickly and easily force content to look right on the display.
The final test, which was very important to me, was how it coped with dual displays. It passed with flying colours. It didn't try to steal the mouses focus, and it even remembered the last display the application was loaded on. So pressing the media button on the remote control, made sure the software always loaded up on my TV and not on my desktop.
The software is full of little features, such as a timer for shutting down your machine when required, and it runs smoothly, while not chewing up too much in the way of resources.
The VFD panel looks great and can be put to good use. The remote control is well designed and has options for everything you'll need to change. If it isn't on there – you can program it yourself. The iMedian software is excellent and a clear alternative to MCE. However, it may not work with all TV Tuners. As the iMedian software is freely available, I recommend downloading it first and deciding if you like it (and testing for compatibility with your TV card).
At £49.99, this is an absolute bargain and a must have for anyone who doesn't want to purchase a Media Center Edition license.