- Review Price: £74.01
Convergence in technology is a wonderful thing. It allows you to use your monitor as a TV, MP3 player as games console or even camera as media player. In the case of Compro’s VideoMate W800F Hybrid TVFM box, it allows you to watch digital or analogue TV and preloaded films on any PC monitor at up to 1080i, as well as listening to FM radio or MP3 music and even play a game or two. Compro’s packaging brings back bad memories of the rather poor AVerMedia AVerTV Hybrid STB, from its colour scheme to the ‘creative’ use of English grammar, but this alone isn’t enough to dismiss it.
Together with the W800F unit, you get a small plastic stand, remote control with batteries, power adapter and user guide. Cables consist of one nine-pin Mini-DIN to VGA and one to component/S-Video, a 3.5mm audio cable and an FM antenna. There’s also an above-par (for this kind of product) digital TV antenna, with two metal aerials on a black plastic stand with a broad felted base.
In a world of black AV gear the VideoMate W800F unit itself is quite distinctive by sporting a lacquered-white finish. As with all glossy devices it picks up fingerprints like a monkey picks up bananas and there’s no cleaning cloth provided, but thanks to the remote you shouldn’t need to touch it too often.
At 15 x 11 x 2.5cm it’s slightly smaller than an external desktop drive and weighs just 283g with its stand, which can be securely attached using a hook and clip system. Though in theory the unit can be placed either horizontally or vertically, inexplicably its own rubber feet are recessed further than the slightly-curved side they’re on, so using the stand is the only way to get it standing stably and being sure to avoid scratches.
Build quality is good, with the VideoMate W800F’s thick plastic displaying no sign of flex or creak. Though it doesn’t fit in too well with the white shell, at least the matte silver finish on the unit’s buttons makes them easily distinguishable and doesn’t pick up fingerprints. Its buttons are large and concave, which combined with crisp feedback makes them easy to use.
Most of the time, however, you’ll be using the remote, which runs off two AA batteries so you can use rechargeable ones. As with the AVerMedia AVerTV Hybrid STB, though, the remote doesn’t match the device at all, sporting a combination of matte black and grey. It’s quite light and comfortable in the hand, and though the buttons are a bit flimsy, their logical layout and distinctive shapes do make them easy to use.
The remote’s limited range (you have to be within about three metres of the main unit for it to work) is forgivable, considering the VideoMate W800F is recommended for use with a maximum 26in monitor, which you’ll probably want to sit fairly close to anyway.