LaCie LaCinema Black MAX
Stylish media streamer and DVR combo
Review LaCie was among the first hard disk manufacturers to produce high capacity, multimedia storage devices designed for media playback. These hard drives, equipped with A/V interfacing, enabled you to take your digital music and video files away from your computer and play them on a decent hi-fi and a full-size TV screen. With its new LaCinema Black range, LaCie has gone a step further and produced a full-scale set-top box.
Screen idol? LaCie's LaCinema Black MAX
There are three models in the Black range, starting at around £280 for the Black PLAY, which is essentially a straightforward media server. However, we decided to test the top-of-the-range Black MAX, which costs a hefty £420 with 500GB hard disk or £505 with 1TB. That’s expensive, but the Black MAX does make an ambitious attempt to combine a network media server and a set-top DVR in a single unit.
The glossy black box measures around 9in wide and deep and a little under 2in high. It’s larger than an ordinary hard disk, but still only about half the size of our Sky+ box. A quick look around the back reveals a good selection of input and output options, including a digital TV tuner. However, at this price you might have expected two separate tuners, so that you could record one programme while watching another.
There’s an HDMI interface plus composite and RGB video outputs for connecting to your TV, as well as composite, S-Video and audio inputs that can be used to record analogue video from external sources such as an old VCR.
Besides built-in 802.11n Wi-Fi, there’s also a 10/100Mbps Ethernet interface for connecting the Black MAX to your home network. A USB port offers direct connection to a computer, with three additional USB ports reserved for external devices such as a memory stick, hard disk or digital camera.
No Scart, but adapters are supplied
Finally, there’s an optical digital audio output for linking to an external audio system. There are no Scart connectors, but LaCie does include a couple of Scart adaptors in the box, along with HDMI and other A/V cables.
Why include a Hard Drive
A couple days ago i installed a cheap ($119 US) ATSC tuner with composite, S-video, and RGB component connectors.
The RGB connectors went to a legacy DVR, and thence to RGB inputs of our TV. The only downside of this arrangement is the DVR/DVD combo limits resolution to 720X480i.
Interestingly, however, the tuner also features ethernet and USB connectors, so a simple software revision would make the perfect product, a tuner that lets you record onto your own external hard drives. Building a hard drive inside a product almost guarantees that it will cost too much because Hard drive prices are falling so rapidly. Consumers can then fill up hard drives with shows they believe they will watch again someday, and put them on a shelf instead of tediously choosing what shows to erase to clear space for the next recording.
You could even plug in one hard drive for a specific series or repurpose all those old 120G harddrives that are laying around.
On the other hand, COX Cable, the provider here in Las Vegas, provides virtual DVR service, recording EVERY network programme and making it available for playback on demand the day after airing.
Paris because her sister is coming to vegas for my Halloween party.
including a digital TV tuner. However, at this price you might have expected two separate tuners, so that you could record one programme while watching another.
Surely you watch via the TV's Freeview Tuner while the Box Records? iasn't that how video recorders have worked for the last erm years... (admitedly no pause while recording)
Personnaly I'd stick to the Foxsat HDR.. way cheaper it works and its HD!
What, no DTS input?
And for those of us who choose not to pay Murdoch a monthly fee, what about FreeSat integration?
Oh, what a missed opportunity for HD.
To be fair, you can get a Freeview tuner for £30, but not a DVR with 500Gb hard disk....
The Popcorn Hour AT-110 can stream video from NFS or Samba shares (or its own HD) with no need for Twonky or whatever and it costs £175.
Given that you can also buy a Freeview DVR with way more features than the LaCinema provides for about £30 it seems LaCie is charging around £200 extra for the luxury of having inferior versions of both products in one box.