Seagate's new FreeAgent Theater media player product relies on sneakernet to cart digital files between a PC and the TV.
In the home, the network is not the computer and networked storage is not the norm, although many, if not most, PC-using homes now have a broadband link with a broadband router acting as the Internet gateway. Several suppliers have developed storage and media playing products that connect to the router and function as a central digital storage facility for the home, offering backup of PC and notebook files, and also digital files for TVs and Hi-Fis.
Western Digital's MyBook World Edition is one of these, as is Iomega's Home Media Network Hard Drive. Seagate has elected not to go the router-connect route with its new FreeAgent Theater (FAT) media player, instead relying upon the use of FreeAgent USB-connect external hard drives to carry digital files from a PC to the FAT hardware box.
The FAT is a glossy black, paperback-sized box with a FreeAgent drive dock. It is connected to a TV by video and audio leads and comes with its own infrared remote control unit. You hook a FreeAgent drive up to a PC via USB and a docking station. It automatically makes copies of all the digital sound, image, video and movie files on the PC using the FreeAgent Theater software. Then connect the FreeAgent to the FAT's dock, switch on the TV and use the FAT remote to find out what's on the FreeAgent and play/display it.
The FAT box has a USB port so a different external drive can be connected to it. The FAT media player supports MPEG-1, MPEG-2, MPEG-4, and DIVX files with video resolutions for NTSC, PAL and HD (high definition) up to 1080i. Supported audio formats include 5.1 channel surround sound, MP3, WMA, WAV and OGG. It connects to a TV with either composite, S-video or component video and audio inputs and needs its own power supply.
Seagate's FAT media player is a device to organise and play digital media files. It has no in-built storage, no connectivity to a PC, Mac or router and it cannot function as a shared storage or data protection device for the home. It also has no DLNA certification.
The price is 99 euros and it's available through Seagate's channel. ®