What's the Stor.e?

Cliff Joseph goes on a file frenzy with Toshiba’s 1TB media player

There’s no shortage of ‘multimedia hard disks’ available these days, and they’re handy for people who want to store photos, music and video files and play them on a TV or music system. However, most of these devices are produced by specialist hard disk manufacturers and they aren’t always as user-friendly as they could be – so I was curious to see what additional expertise mass market brand Toshiba would bring to its Stor.E TV+.

This is a neat little black box that sits alongside your TV. Two versions are available: the one reviewed here with a 1TB internal hard disk and a 2TB model at £200 (cheaper than rivals such as the popular WD TV, which costs £199 with a 1TB hard disk).

A glance around the back reveals two USB ports – one for connecting to a PC, and the other for attaching a memory stick, external hard disk or camera – along with an Ethernet port for network connection and HDMI port that provides 1080p output for your HD TV. There’s also a composite video output, analogue stereo and coaxial connector for 5.1 audio.

On the right-hand side of the unit you get a third USB port and a memory card reader, too. However, I was a little disappointed when I powered up the Stor.E TV+ to find a decidedly functional onscreen interface. Its main Home screen consists of just eight icons, which enable you to browse the contents of the internal hard disk, connected USB devices or memory cards, or to adjust network and other settings.

One option that did catch my eye, though, was the ‘External DVD’ icon that lets you connect a USB DVD drive to the Stor.E TV+ and use it to play discs. You can control playback using the standard remote control provided and this also includes an 8X zoom for video playback, 32X fast forward/back or 1/16X slow-motion. The Stor.E TV+ can also play a good range of audio and video file formats. It handled my mixed iTunes library of AAC and MP3 audio files with no problems, and produced good results with a number of HD video test files. Supporting uPnP, it can also play media files stored on games consoles on your network.

Achilles’ Heel

The Stor.E TV+ does have some rough edges, though. There’s no support for DivX or Xvid formats, and MP4 files from iTunes with the .m4v suffix had to be relabelled as MP4. The files played perfectly well, but renaming is tedious work.

You can browse through individual folders on the internal hard disk, but the device won’t let you check your music library by artist, genre or album title, as per the WD TV. Toshiba boasts that the Stor.E TV+ can store 1,000s of hours of media files, but it needs to provide more efficient browsing options to help you find what you want more quickly.


HCC VERDICT

Toshiba Stor.E TV
Price:
£149 Approx

Highs: Large hard disk; supports good range of audio and video file formats
Lows: Inelegant graphical interface; limited browsing options
Performance: 4/5
Design: 3/5
Features: 3/5
Overall: 3/5


Specifications

Storage: 1TB
UPnP Compliant: Yes
Connectivity: 10/100 Ethernet; 3 x USB; Memory card reader (SD, MMC, Memory Stick); HDMI v1.3; coaxial digital audio; composite; stereo phono output
Dimensions: 46.4(h) x 206(w) x 160(d)mm
Weight: 1.3Kg
Audio file formats: MP3, AAC, WMA, OGG, FLAC, Dolby Digital, DTS Digital
Video file formats: MPEG-1, MPEG-2, MPEG-4, AVI, H.264, WMV9, MKV, MOV, VOB, VIDEO_TS