Legit Mods and Ends Reviews
Seagate FreeAgent Theater+ HD Media Player Review
|Product:||FreeAgent Theater+ HD Media Player (ST905004CEA2E1-RK)|
|Date:||Thu, Dec 10, 2009 - 12:00 AM|
|Written By:||Ken Brown -|
Final Thoughts & Conclusions
Seagate’s FreeAgent Theater+ is one of the most versatile media players on the market. Based on the Realtek 1073 chipset, the guts of the Theater+ are technically the same as the Patriot Box Office. Doing a side-by-side comparison, however, shows the Seagate to be a tad quicker when navigating around menus and playing files. The operating systems for devices featuring the Realtek processor are notoriously clunky or bland. Not so for the Seagate. The OS is actually quite sleek – almost minimalist. Everything you need is there and is easily accessible. In fact, my 5 year old was able to pick up the remote and navigate successfully to The Clone Wars TV Series Blu-ray-rips that I stored locally on the FreeAgent hard drive.
The OS is far from perfect and we are hoping the Seagate continues to improve OS functionality through firmware updates. Our biggest complaint was that sometimes the OS doesn’t list filenames in order making it difficult to play files in consecutive order. This phenomena didn’t happen for every sub-directory, so it was difficult to troubleshoot and really annoying when it would manifest itself.
Even though performance with the streaming HD content over wireless had mixed results, we still liked the freedom the wireless connectivity gives the Theater+. With the $59 FreeAgent Theater+ Wireless Adapter running at N speeds (approx 300Mbps), we were really hoping to have more success with streaming 1080p high-def files. We could only play standard-definition video files however, and suspect there is some rate detection and limiter at play here somehow. We put the question to Seagate earlier and as of press-time, haven’t received an answer on why we see this phenomena. At the very least, we should be able to play and stream files on par with the Patriot Box Office. (Once we hear from Seagate, we will post an update to this article and in our forums).
It will also be interesting to find out what other wireless-N adapters will work with the Seagate. When we didn’t have luck playing HD media with the Seagate wireless dongle, we tried out a Netgear dual-band wireless-N to see if we could improve our performance. Like the Patriot Box Office, the Netgear wireless USB was not recognized. Patriot and Western Digital have made it known to their users which wireless dongles are compatible with their Media Player, but we doubt Seagate will be doing that in the near future. Hopefully, we are wrong.
So which is the best media player on the market today? Of the three media player solutions that we have reviewed here at the LR Bunker, I would have to choose the Seagate FreeAgent Theater+ over the Patriot Box Office. First of all, the fanless operation that the Seagate operates with is silent and because the FreeAgent Theater+ can dock easily with one of the many flavors of FreeAgent Go portable hard drives, this media player package is really tough to beat. When navigating around searching and playing your media files, the Seagate’s OS responds quicker and is faster to load video and pictures than that of the Patriot Box Office also. Lastly, users might want to stay away from the Western Digital TV Live until they get their firmware upgrade flop under control.
Legit Bottom Line:
For $129, the Seagate FreeAgent Theater+ is the player to own if you want a fast and quiet media player. If we didn’t have so many problems with HD streaming over wireless, this would be a flawless solution.
Questions or Comments? View this thread in our forums!
Page 1 - Introducing the Seagate FreeAgent Theater+
Page 2 - In the Box and Under the Hood
Page 3 - Configuring the FreeAgent Theater+
Page 4 - High-Definition Video Playback
Page 5 - Final Thoughts & Conclusions