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 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.
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. ®
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You're right, in fact, that I hadn't previously seen the Rapsody gear -- but AFAICT the ones that have screens (RSH-xxx) can't do streaming (i.e. don't have a network connection), and the ones with a network connection (N3x) don't seem to have a screen.
@ Peter Hartley
"it's the first gadget I've seen that lets you stream video to a TV, *and* has its own screen for listening to audio without having to turn the TV on, both in the same box"
Bollocks. You evidently haven't been looking very hard. Back in 2006 I bought the Rapsody RSH-100, which has its own screen (and controls) built onto the front, so it could be used in the absence of its remote control. Handy for music without having to turn the TV on. It's old tech now, but does somewhat nullify your statement. See it here:
At the moment, I know you can find it for £69 in online retailers (add your own drive), and probably cheaper on eBay. It's a decent piece of kit. There are now newer models out, if you look around I'm sure you'll find them - the RSH-300, for example, is the same basic design but HD-capable.
That's a USB-B Port
"In addition to the two standard USB ports, there's a USB-A socket for attaching the S800 to a PC as an external drive."
The single USB port you call an A port is actually a B port. The dual USB ports at the A ports.
Good article tho. I just wish my ReplayTV would record HD as I like the user interface. If the AppleTV would ship with a couple digital tuners to be a PVR I'd buy one of those. Seems like no one wants to make a device for my recording needs. :-(
If the 500GB one costs 250 quid then why on earth does the 1TB model cost 500 quid? That simply does not make any sense. In fact it is an obscene ripoff.
Hold on a minute, how much is the 250GB one??? 125 quid by my reckoning - a bargain....
No support for most Hi-Def video files in a high-Def streamer seems to make it a doorstop IMHO.