Now that the home entertainment market has moved towards streaming video services and Blu-ray content, there has never been a better time to convert DVD collections to digital.
Seagate FreeAgent Theater+ media streamer
This media streamer integrates well with Seagate portable hard drives
- Network streaming works well, good integration with FreeAgent hard drives
- No integrated Wi-Fi, bland interface, no front panel controls
If you already have a FreeAgent Go portable hard drive, the Seagate FreeAgent Theater+ media streamer is a good accompaniment. For other users it's still a reasonable choice but it loses its competitive edge.
Price$ 219.00 (AUD)
Seagate's FreeAgent Theater+ is a media streamer designed to work in conjunction with the company's FreeAgent Go portable hard drives. While it can be used with any USB flash drive or portable hard drive, its advantage lies in its FreeAgent integration. A 10/100 Ethernet connection transforms the device from a simple media player into a more fully featured video streaming platform.
Like the Seagate FreeAgent Theater before it, the Seagate FreeAgent Theater+ has a glossy black finish and a squat design. It will fit unobtrusively next to your television; you could also pack it in a bag and take it travelling if you wanted. We don't like the fact that there are no buttons on the front of the unit, making the remote control necessary for all operations. Thankfully it is simply laid out and easy to use.
The FreeAgent Theater+ has an integrated slide-in dock for FreeAgent Go drives, but other portable hard drives won't fit properly. Two extra USB host ports (front and rear) allow any other drives to be connected, and the Ethernet connection means you can stream media without a USB device connected; there's no integrated wireless networking. HDMI was our choice of A/V connector, but the FreeAgent Theater+ also features component video, composite A/V and optical digital audio outputs.
The interface of the FreeAgent Theater+ is a mixed bag. On a high-definition television it is clean and simple, but we found the interface's white-on-black colour scheme bland and the icons too small to easily see from 10 feet away. Setting up the wired Ethernet connection was a breeze, and we were easily able to stream 1080p MKV videos from a networked PC. The Seagate FreeAgent Theater+ has extensive support for videos, audio files and photos in a variety of formats, including FLAC music support as well as AVCHD video playback off high-definition digital video cameras. We noticed that our WMV HD test files failed to render properly, but this format is not widely used and isn't officially supported.
The Seagate FreeAgent Theater+ is a competent media streamer — it's simple to use, has reasonable format support and is small and portable. If you've got a FreeAgent Go portable hard drive it's a great purchase, but users of other USB hard drives may want to consider other options.
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