Network-attached storage coupled with a media streamer can be a wonderful way to send your digital media content to your television. That is, if you can get it all set up. If you can't--as is often the case--you're out of luck. That's why attaching a drive directly to your TV may have more appeal. The Seagate FreeAgent Theater HD media player is aimed squarely at people who don't want to mess around with a network drive and media streamer.
"We want to make it as easy as possible for users to get their stuff off a hard drive and to a TV," explains Jon van Bronkhorst, Seagate executive director of branded solutions.
Due out in March, the FreeAgent Theater is a docking unit that pairs with a Seagate FreeAgent Go portable hard disk drive and connects directly to your TV or AV receiver via HDMI. Seagate's Sync software aggregates photos, videos, and music on the drive, and makes that content easy to view on your TV. If you copy content to the drive, it maintains the directory structure for you, and supports thumbnails to find content more quickly. You can control the device via a remote control.
Seagate has specifically focused on enhancing slideshows and video playback. For example, if you copy music and pictures into a single folder from your PC to your FreeAgent, the device will play those photos as a slideshow on your TV, accompanied by the music track in that folder.
The FreeAgent Theater upconverts video to 1080i--unlike the Western Digital 1080p-capable media player. The device also supports full DVD menus; if you rip a copy of a self-recorded DVD to your hard disk drive, all of the menus of that DVD will be accessible via the FreeAgent Theater.
The dock alone sells for $129; Seagate will also sell the dock together with a drive.
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