Stream video and record television shows
Hard disks that connect to a home network, commonly known as network attached storage, or NAS for short, are becoming increasingly common.
Many can also stream music or video files to a suitable receiver device, making them a handy way to keep a jukebox of media files. This inelegantly named device from Verbatim goes one step further still – it can also record TV programmes.
The front and back of the Mediastation are covered in controls and sockets. On the back you’ll find every type of TV connection you could want, including HDMI and component video for a high-definition TV, plus a network socket. Strangely the wireless networking isn’t built-in, and must be added by plugging the supplied adapter into a USB port on the back.
As well as an incoming aerial socket there’s an output, too, allowing the Mediastation to work alongside a Freeview set-top box, for example. Once connected, the Mediastation must be tuned to pick up TV channels – it can access both both analogue and digital (Freeview) channels, and if you wish you can set it up to receive both.
On the front there’s a surprisingly large black-and-white screen, a range of buttons to control the device, a USB socket and a memory card reader. Plug a storage device into either of the latter and you can copy its contents to the disk with one push of a button – a handy trick.
All these inputs, outputs and buttons suggest that the Mediastation is a powerful device that can do a lot. This is true, as you can record TV programmes, play video or music files stored on the disk, connect to other network devices to play files stored there, and more.
Sadly, though, there are two significant problems.
Firstly, the Mediastation cannot play movie files that use H.264 technology unless these are first translated into another format. As H.264 is becoming a much more common video type, and as it’s very useful for high-definition films, this is a real disappointment.
Perhaps more importantly, the Mediastation simply isn’t easy enough to use. The remote control is reasonably large with plenty of buttons, but the device left much to be desired: the Freeview programme guide is terribly designed, for example, and harder to use than the one on an inexpensive set-top box.
We were further frustrated when trying to record a TV show: pressing the record button when using the programme guide didn’t work, and nor did experimentally jabbing any other likely buttons. In the end we had to schedule a recording using the timer, rather like on an old VCR.
It’s also true that the device feels overcomplicated. The screen and controls on its front, for example, aren’t really usable enough to make them worth having there.
All things considered, we can’t recommend the Mediastation in its current form, although the next generation of this product may better live up to its potential.
An all-in-one network player that’s just too fiddly to use Good points TV recording built-in Bad points Can’t play H.264 files; awful TV programme guide; wireless adapter sticks out at the back
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