The device makes a good impression when you turn it on for the first time – it was able to quickly scan for TV channels and to automatically connect itself to our network without throwing any confusing network settings at us. The unit’s internal fan makes more noise than our Sky+ box, but wasn’t loud enough to become annoying or obtrusive.
Basic icons identify the unit's key functions
The device’s on-screen browser interface is also quite straightforward. It displays a set of large icons, which represent the TV tuner, music, photos and video files that you can play on your TV, and it’s a simple matter to select the option you want by using the control pad on the small remote control.
When you select the TV icon, the Black MAX simply acts like a conventional Freeview recorder. Unfortunately, it’s not a terribly sophisticated Freeview recorder. It includes basic features, such as an electronic programme guide (EPG), and the ability to pause live TV.
However, other features are crudely implemented. The remote control doesn’t have a number pad, so you can’t quickly punch in a channel number to select a specific channel. You either have to scroll through the full on-screen list of programmes or go through a rather long-winded process for creating your own list of favourite channels.
Most digital recorders also include some sort of ‘series record’ option within their EPG for automatically recording all the episodes of a particular show, but the Black MAX requires you to manually schedule recordings by specifying the date, time and duration of the programmes to be recorded.
Screen idle: navigation latency is an unwelcome test of patience
The Black MAX’s menu system is also rather sluggish – we’d often find ourselves thumping buttons impatiently while waiting for various menu choices to appear on screen, and the option to manually programme a recording takes a good ten seconds to appear.
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.