Recorded sections of TV can be reviewed using the Playback option and files are neatly listed by channel and date. There’s even a preview window so you can tell which file is which.
Unlike Western Digital’s WD TV, the S800 doesn’t scan your storage devices for media and add it to a library. Instead you have to either browse your devices by folder and file name or you can copy your files to the S800’s internal storage, which does have a proper library interface. Now considering it can be setup as a Network Attached Storage (NAS) box and thus could potentially be used as the main store for all your media, you may not see this as too much of a problem. However, having seen how quickly and easily the WD TV managed to index external devices, we see no reason why the S800 can’t either.
More worrying, though, is just how poor the Movie Cube’s file format support is. Basics like MPEG2 video and mp3 audio are catered for but free and widely available formats like FLAC and Xvid completely failed to play. Now I know there’s an argument for saying that these formats are only really used for illegally distributed media and this is why they’re not widely supported but, one, that’s not true, and, two, if another device does offer these features (e.g. the WD TV) it’s nonsensical to not also offer them.
Finally, we come to the Internet radio and once again we find something that does the basics but has no flair. Setup is quick and easy and plenty of stations can be found. However, you can only search through the thousands of stations by either a seemingly unordered list or by genre, which itself only whittles down the selection by one step and offers up the stations in no obvious order. Once you do find some stations you like, you can add them to your favourites, for quick access, but finding them in the first place may prove quite challenging.
The Emtec Movie Cube S800 packs in plenty of features and is presented in a well-made and reasonably elegant case. However, whether considered primarily as a PVR, a NAS box, a media file player, or an Internet radio tuner, it simply doesn’t compare on any level to separate devices. Sure, if you really want a single box to do everything then it serves its purpose and comes in at a good price but for us, it’s a compromise too far.
Score in detail