Internet Radio was a bit of a let-down. It works well enough, but as with the Movie Cube S800 you can only browse by Station, Genre or Favourite, and the slow interface lacks any visual appeal. Networking functioned as expected, and the Docking Station had no trouble streaming a 1080p AVI file though navigation was particularly slow.
File format support is where the P800 really falls down though. Its audio capabilities are decent enough, including MP2/MP3, OGG and WMA Standard plus PCM, but there’s no sign of high-quality FLAC or other (less common) file types. Photo support is truly pathetic, with only JPEG and BMP. Though these are the most common formats, compare this to the WD TV Mini‘s JPEG, GIF, TIFF, BMP and PNG.
Meanwhile video is limited to AVI, MPG1/2, Xvid/DivX, VOB, DAT and IFO. That’s right, no support for H.264/MKV or most other high definition formats/containers; for HD you’re stuck with AVI and Xvid/DivX. Only subtitle support is fully up to scratch, with SRT, SMI, SSA, IDX and SUB on the menu.
At around £150 for the 160GB GDIUM version or £170 with the 320GB 2.5in drive (the 500GB version is not good value at around £240), the question of whether the P800 presents good value isn’t exactly clear-cut. On average, high-quality 320GB 2.5in external drives are easy enough to find at £50, so you’re paying roughly £120 for the Docking Station. For this kind of money you can get the Asus O!Play HDP-R1 HD and a card reader with plenty of change left over, which offers format support for everything under the sun. However, there’s the TV tuner part of the equation to take into consideration, as well as the Emtec’s more extensive connectivity.
If you’re after these features, the main competition is Emtec’s own Movie Cube S800 and A.C.Ryan’s Playon! DVR TV. In the case of the former, you can get a model with a 750GB internal drive for £160, while the Playon! will set you back £150 without a hard drive (though this does include the wireless adapter). However, at this kind of price point we prefer the P800 since it’s completely silent in operation, offers a card reader and the additional flexibility of the portable HDD.
A good-looking device with a few unique touches, Emtec’s Movie Cube P800 Media Recorder is let down by poor build quality, a somewhat clunky interface and very limited file format support. However, at the moment it’s one of the best out of a mediocre bunch, so if its features are adequate for your needs it’s worth a look.
Score in detail
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