Seagate has just released Freeagent Theater HD Media player looks like an old version Betamax/VHS tape recorder and it should not come as a surprise given the fact that the manufacturer says hard disk drives are the next video cassette.
The device - which has already been launched in Europe - connects to a TV and has a docking station for FreeAgent external 2.5-inch hard disk drive. The HD media player is a bit short on features though according to early previews.
There's no HDMI connection for example and the outputs are limited to component, S-Video, and composite video output. There's no H.264 codec or .MKV file support although DivX. MPEG-1,2 and 4 for video content and MP3, WMA, WAV and OGG for audio content are supported.
Also in the package is a lonely USB port that will allow users to be connected to an external hard disk drive and a remote control. The interface also lacks some crucial features like the ability to sort music by artist, playlist or genre.
The fact that there is no Wi-Fi connectivity as well could be seen as an embarrassment by some. However, Seagate saves the day by allowing the FreeAgent drive to hook up with your PC via the USB port and automatically make copies of all your media files on your PC using the bundled FreeAgent Theatre application.
At £89 without the external hard disk drive, the HD media player could be a great deal for some if hard disk based PVRs did not exist and if media PCs were not as advanced as they are.
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A 320GB external Freeagent hard disk drive costs £64 and when you factor in the cost of the media player, the total cost creeps up to £153. You can get a 500GB PVR for as little as £110 and Western Digital or Iomega offers some compelling, alternative products. Unless you want to juggle between hard disk drives, you would certainly be better looking elsewhere.
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