The Seagate FreeAgent Theater HD Media Player is a case of "close but no cigar". The system revolves around a concept not unlike gaming cartridges of yore, except now the "cartridges" consist of Seagate FreeAgent Go portable hard drives, and instead of games, the system now plays back all your digital video, music and photo content...
We can see how this could be an interesting purchase for someone with an investment of several giga/terabytes of FreeAgent Go drives. The system consists of a PC docking station which hooks up to your PC, copies all your photos, music and images, then preps them all for sure with the media player hooked up with your TV set. Kinda cool...like a throwback that brings back fond memories of slipping in a SNES cartridge. As noted, the system plays back 1080i, alongside Dolby Digital 5.1 audio, with a front USB port for flash drives or additional external USB drives, making this a decent plug and play home media device.
The system comes in three configurations: 250GB Media Player Solution ($229.99), 500GB Media Player Solution ($279.99), Media Player Only sans USB drive (currently on sale at $99.99).
Here are the down and dirty details of encoding formats the system supports:
- Video: MPEG-1, MPEG-2 (AVI/VOB/ISO), MPEG-4 (AVI/DivX /Xvid) Subtitles: SAMI(smi), SRT and SUB Video resolutions: NTSC 480i/480p; PAL 576i/576p, supports video (HD and upscaling) up to 720p/1080i*
- Audio: MP3, AC3 (5.1 audio - Dolby® Digital) WMA, WAV, OGG
- Photo: JPEG files up to 20 megapixels * supports MPEG-4, Xvid up to 1280 x 720 60fps and supports MPEG-2 and photos up to 1920 x 1080i 30 fps
Sorry Mac users, Windows XP or Vista only. But the real knock against this system currently is the absence of HDMI support, seemingly crippling any chances of adoption by the type of customer likely to have a multitude of external drives laying around. Still, we imagine this would be a cool device to get for our mom. Load it up with movies, music, and photos and bring it over for her to enjoy with a spare to keep and load for the next visit (drives are so affordable now, this doesn't seem as wild of an idea as it once would have been).