Feeds
50%
Emtec Media Cube S800

Emtec Movie Cube S800 DVR

TiVo meets AppleTV?

  • alert
  • submit to reddit

Intelligent flash storage arrays

Recording schedules went off without a hitch, but the S800's recording schedule is based strictly on time so if a show overruns, the recording will simply cut off. Some DVRs have the ability to detect when a programme is running over time and adjust the recording duration accordingly. Others will at least let apply an automatic early start and late finish to buffer you against overruns or premature starts.

Emtec Media Cube S800

Cute design

Emtec has also included a timeshift function which buffers the live TV stream, allowing you to pause, rewind and fast forward the feed. In practice, we found although the timeshifting worked, it slowed down the machine so much as to make it barely usable.

The story's better when it comes to playing back other media, as there's good support for the majority of common codecs, including MP3, WMA and Ogg for audio and MPEG 2, MPEG 4, AVI, VOB, DAT, MP4 and XVid for video. Furthermore, the S800 saves recordings in MPEG 2 format, allowing you to copy these onto a notebook or other media player to watch while you're out and about.

What it comes down to is that the entire recording structure harks back to the days when VCRs were just starting to get smarter. DVB-T provides a plethora of information in its transmission streams that can make life so much easier for everyone, if only Emtec's programmers would make use of it.

The one positive side to this is that none of these are problems are hardware related, meaning that they could overcome in future firmware updates. We're hoping that Emtec will continue to work on the S800's interface and EPG, but as it stands we simply can't recommend using the machine to watch live TV, though playing back recorded shows and other content is very easy.

Verdict

We loved the notion of the S800 as a DVR with so much extra functionality thrown in, but the clunky EPG, the unfriendly recording systems and the poor timeshifting performance means that it's very hard to recommend the unit as a digital video recorder. If your prime interest is the media streaming and storage side, and the DVR functionality is secondary, it's not a bad box. If Emtec improves the firmware, then we'd give the DVR side the thumbs-up. Until it does, though, we can't rate it highly. ®

More Set-top Reviews...


Humax Foxsat-HDR

Epson EH-DM2

TVonics DTR-Z500

Western Digital WD TV

Intelligent flash storage arrays

50%
Emtec Media Cube S800

Emtec Movie Cube S800 DVR

Nice hardware, shame about the software.
Price: £250 (500GB) £499 (1TB) RRP

More from The Register

next story
Official: European members prefer to fondle Apple iPads
Only 7 of 50 parliamentarians plump for Samsung Galaxy S
Fujitsu CTO: We'll be 3D-printing tech execs in 15 years
Fleshy techie disses network neutrality, helmet-less motorcyclists
Space Commanders rebel as Elite:Dangerous kills offline mode
Frontier cops an epic kicking in its own forums ahead of December revival
Intel's LAME DUCK mobile chips gobbled by CASH COW
Chipzilla won't have money-losing mobe unit to kick about anymore
First in line to order a Nexus 6? AT&T has a BRICK for you
Black Screen of Death plagues early Google-mobe batch
Ford's B-Max: Fiesta-based runaround that goes THUNK
... when you close the slidey doors, that is ...
prev story

Whitepapers

Why cloud backup?
Combining the latest advancements in disk-based backup with secure, integrated, cloud technologies offer organizations fast and assured recovery of their critical enterprise data.
Forging a new future with identity relationship management
Learn about ForgeRock's next generation IRM platform and how it is designed to empower CEOS's and enterprises to engage with consumers.
5 critical considerations for enterprise cloud backup
Key considerations when evaluating cloud backup solutions to ensure adequate protection security and availability of enterprise data.
Reg Reader Research: SaaS based Email and Office Productivity Tools
Read this Reg reader report which provides advice and guidance for SMBs towards the use of SaaS based email and Office productivity tools.
Beginner's guide to SSL certificates
De-mystify the technology involved and give you the information you need to make the best decision when considering your online security options.