The funny thing about films is that while I love buying them on DVD or Blu-ray, because I like something tangible for my money rather than a ‘mere' download, I also hate the clutter such discs can cause. I've got draws full of the bloody things all over the house.
Which is why I'm feeling rather enthusiastic today about the arrival of the MM200 Media Server from UK innovator, Vivadi. For the MM200 is a single, surprisingly slender box capable of storing vast quantities of my DVD discs onto its built-in 1 terrabyte of storage capacity. As well as being a Freeview PVR, DVD recorder and fully functioning, multimedia-savvy PC...
But before getting in to all that complicated stuff, though, let's go back to the MM200's aesthetics. For it looks a million dollars in other ways too, thanks to a gorgeous high-gloss black finish, and elegant and unusually readable LED display. Heck, even Vivadi's logo is unusually stylish.
At first glance the unit appears to be extremely well-stocked with connections, too. There's an HDMI output capable of delivering 1080p video to your screen, for instance, as well as an absolute feast of multimedia jacks, including multiple front and back USB ports, slots for Smart Media, Compact Flash/Micro Drive, Memory Stick and SD cards, a VGA port, IEEE 1394 Firewire ports, and a LAN port for internet connection - though you can, of course, also connect to the internet wirelessly, if you've got a wireless router.
Plus there's a connections bay sporting an RF tuner jack, and two S-Video inputs, and finally there's a rather important large slot to the left-hand side where you pop in your lovely shiny music and movie discs.
Pausing to reflect on this long list of connections, though, actually throws up one surprising shortcoming: no HDMI inputs to accompany the HDMI output. This means that you can't use the MM200 as a handy ‘switchbox' for HDMI sources such as a Sky HD receiver, Xbox 360 Elite, or PS3 games console.
I guess you could argue this isn't an essential feature for the MM200; its chief raison d'etre is as a multimedia hub, and in that respect it's amply provided for. But HD switching certainly could have boosted the unit's potential usefulness considerably.
Unfortunately there's another blow for HD fans when it comes to the MM200's disc playback capabilities. For the disc slot is only capable of playing or recording to DVDs or CDs. In other words, there's no Blu-ray support.