LaCie LaCinema Black Max Media Streaming Device
At a Glance
LaCie recently sent us an early unit of the LaCinema Black Max, its triple-threat hard-drive and media-streamer combo. (We will update this review with our impressions of the U.S. version of the device when it becomes available.) The device can not only connect to your PC to load media but can also stream media from your network-attached storage or other UPnP (Universal Plug and Play) server and display it on your TV. As if that weren't enough, the fashionably shiny black box also functions as a DVR with a built-in TV tuner. The model I looked at was the European version, set up for European DVB-T, but a version for the United States market is promised for this spring.
With the "La" in the name, it stands to reason that this product would possess a certain amount of style. And it certainly does: The black-and-white (yes, it does still play color movies and photos) on-screen interface is a joy of minimalist design and far more attractive than most. To match it, LaCie provides a minimalist remote that's easy to learn and use; the LaCie remote is the antithesis of the overpopulated-with-buttons one that ships with the competing Iomega ScreenPlay Pro.
The LaCinema sports a 500GB hard drive for recording or transferring media, but it also has USB inputs and will play media on attached drives. Output was excellent via HDMI (up to 1080p) as well through as the component and composite outputs, and I had no problems streaming to it from NAS boxes. It offers analog and digital output (optical), too, and it has S-Video, composite-video, and analog-audio inputs for recording from external devices.