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Once connected only to the display(s), you need the remote to activate multimedia mode. After a loading screen reminiscent of the XP one, you get an interface that’s remarkably similar to Media Center – and why not? Aforementioned quibbles with the remote and interface aside, everything works well enough. Transitions between various different types of media are smooth, and the MultiMedia drive offers a thumbnail preview mode for photographs.
Dolby Digital works as long as your media supports it. The upscaling is nothing special, but then that’s hardly unexpected on a device at this price range. We tried running it in 1080i with only the drive’s scaling active, and got only a watchable result. Any artefacts in the original source were exacerbated and there wasn’t much (read:any) positive processing going on, but quality remained acceptable. However, this also highlighted the Traxdata’s potentially biggest problem: a complete lack of support for any high definition format.
In fact, even compared to the competition format support is a bit thin on the ground. For movies there is only MPEG1/2, AVI or SD DivX, with no sign of MPEG4 which most HDMI-equipped multimedia drives support. Apart from this you get DAT, MPG, MPE, VOB, JPG, JPEG, MP3 and WAV. You can also easily transfer DVDs in their entirety through the simple process of copying the ‘video’ folder directly off the optical disc. The Traxdata will still let you use the DVD’s menus and features, and ‘upscale’ it to match your TV’s 720 or 1080 resolution.
To be honest, I would have some difficulty wholeheartedly recommending multimedia drives in general until they offer support for high definition formats. As it stands, the Traxdata’s MSRP of £150 needs to drop by around a third to be truly competitive, and even then it’s undercut by some of the competition in terms of features and flexibility.
The Traxdata MultiMedia Drive simply does not offer enough to distinguish itself over similar products by LaCie and Iomega, who offer more compelling products for less. If the drive actually goes on sale at just under £100 though, it might be a worthy alternative to what’s already out there.
Score in detail