The Toshiba StorE TV+ is like a delusional contestant on Britain's Got Talent. It thinks it can sing, dance and entertain the masses, but, in reality, it has trouble just holding a tune.
We'd hoped this multimedia hard-drive streamer might bring a savvy consumer-electronics sensibility to what has often seemed a parochial product category -- after all, it's a Toshiba device. But it doesn't. What we actually have here is a PC peripheral with a bad sense of direction.
Our 1TB model costs around £110, but 500GB, 1.5TB and 2TB drives are also available.
The StorE TV+ makes a great first impression. The glossy black box is small, and sports an appealing high-res LCD display. The small size of the device has been achieved by using an external, 12V power brick.
Having any form of display is a novelty in this category. Toshiba uses it to offer a simple status update as to where the device is looking -- the local hard drive, a USB stick, a memory card and so on.
Connectivity is also good. There's an HDMI output, phono AV, Ethernet jack, digital coaxial output, three USB ports, and a three-in-one card reader, compatible with SD, MultiMediaCard and Memory Stick media. You can hook an external CD/DVD drive up to a USB port, and discs will automatically play through the StorE TV+ when inserted.
Getting online is easy. The StorE TV+ comes with a Wi-Fi dongle in the box.
The user interface initially impresses and navigation is intuitive. High-resolution graphics represent the local hard drive, any connected USB devices or memory cards, any external DVD drive, and your networks. Once on our LAN, the StorE TV+ effortlessly located an assortment of network-attached storage devices and PCs.
There are several ways of moving content to and from the device. You can stream across a network, or simply use the host USB connection and drag your sound and vision files directly to either the music or video folders on the device.
File support is reassuringly broad -- the unit can play MP3, WMA, WAV, AAC, FLAC and LPCM files, as well as Dolby Digital and DTS bit streams. Video compatibility is equally good. Our test pool of AVI, MKV, MOV and MPEG files all played.