The Eminent EM7080’s user interface is centred around a main menu housing options for the box’s six core elements – Movies, Music, Photo, Web Services, File Copy and Setup. These are laid-out along the right hand-side of the screen, while graphics representing each fill up the left hand-side.
It’s a simple interface that’s as intuitive as we could ask for, but next to the latest from A.C. Ryan and the WDTV range it seems ugly. The gradients and purple glow effects that accompany each menu are less stylish and sophisticated than the visuals seen in other boxes. The user interface is similar in style to A.C. Ryan’s interface from last year, seen in devices like the Playon!HD Mini, but its new UX 2.0 is much more attractive. Bad news for Eminent.
Within the three main Movies, Music and Photo options, the EM7080 offers-up options to browse through the folder structure of each storage medium, from a USB stick to UPnP. It’s testament to how basic this interface is that these options don’t disappear when they’re not available.
The right side of the file navigation view features a window that displays a preview of any selected video. This preview does tend to slow down navigation though, as scrolling halts as this video loads. These previews can be switched off entirely from the Settings menu, but it leaves the right side of the screen feeling redundant, now home to a large, static image of a piece of film for each video.
The Eminent EM7080’s interface is best thought of as a window to your content and nothing more. It works – although we did experience the odd crash – but navigating it is never more than functional, never a pleasure. This is only a deal breaker for those looking to house a truly massive video collection within the box, or those interested in making regular use of the included online features – when finding content may take minutes rather than seconds. Eminent needs to gets its software up to the standards of its rivals soon if it’s to continue offering a competitive product.
The File Copy main menu option allows transferral and deletion of files between your USB sticks, hard disk drives and computers connected over a network. Although not as effective as transferring a whole media library using a PC, you can select multiple files at once, making it a very snappy way of grabbing a movie or two off of the network or a USB stick.