One-stop media shop fits the bill

Martin Pipe finds plenty of reasons to recommend this multimedia player

Take the optical disk drive out of a recent Blu-ray player and replace it with an HDD compartment. Squeeze the result into a glossy black box with roughly the same dimensions as a Mac Mini (complete with the external power supply) and you have the Eminent EM7080. The Realtek-based device is a flexible multimedia workhorse that sports two front-panel USB ports for Flash drives or HDDs, plus an eSATA terminal.

Pros

Very fast selection of networked content: uPnP and Samba protocols are both supported. We were able to play DivX Plus full HD, DivX/XviD and 720p .mkv files with excellent picture quality and no lip-sync problems. Among the playable audio formats are MP3, WAV and FLAC. JPEG and BMP pics can also be viewed. You also get BitTorrent/NZB clients, YouTube playback, ShoutCast Internet radio, Flickr, Picasa and the ability to display RSS feeds onscreen.

Adding an HDD increases the flexibility of the EM7080 still further. Connect the retro-fitted player to your PC, and it’s recognised as an external USB 2.0 drive. Copying the multimedia content from your PC is then a fast process. If the EM7080 is then attached to a network, its Samba server will share any files stored on its HDD with other devices.

Will also play ISO disc ‘rips’ of both DVD and Blu-ray. Menus, subtitles and special features are retained. Although the unit will play downmixed Dolby and DTS via the analogue stereo output, 5.1 bitstreams can be obtained via the optical output. If the unit itself can’t handle an audio codec, it can be passed to an AVR that can via HDMI.

Cons

HDMI port is v1.3 and the component output supports HD, but the only dedicated standard-def output is composite – there’s no S-video or Scart. The component output will deliver a 576i output to compatible displays, though.


Eminent EM7080
Price:
£130 Approx

Overall: 4/5