LaCie LaCinema Black MAX
Stylish media streamer and DVR combo
Thankfully, the Black MAX works better as a media server. There are a number of options for playing your digital media files. You can connect a PC – but not a Mac – directly to the Black MAX with USB, and then use the ‘Sharing’ option in Windows Media Player to make your music, videos and photos available to the Black MAX.
Twonky software is supplied for streaming media, but there's no Bit Torrent client
You can also plug in an external USB storage device, and Mac users can use Mac-formatted disks even though they can’t connect an actual Mac using USB. Alternatively, you can stream media files from a networked computer using the bundled TwonkyMediaServer software. This software supports both the UPnP and DLNA networking standards, and there are versions provided for both Macs and PCs.
The good news is that the Black MAX coped well with the various photos, music and video files that we tested on it, including a selection of AAC and MP3 music files, WMV and MP4 videos, and even full HD (1080p) video in H.264 format.
Video quality was crisp and clear, and the Black MAX also makes a respectable stab at upscaling standard-definition video. It can’t stream iTunes copy-protected video, but that’s down to Apple rather than LaCie, and there’s no Bit Torrent client, which will certainly disappoint some potential buyers.
Be sure to organise folders first, for best results when browsing media
The browser interface could be a little more elegant – there’s no option to view album artwork, for instance. Also, if you’re copying a large music collection onto the hard disk you’ll need to make sure that the songs are organised into artist and album folders first. If not, you’ll just be presented with a long list of song titles that you have to scroll through in alphabetical order.