Are you looking for a way of recording television or watching video you've downloaded from the Internet? disgo thinks it's got the ideal product for you, the Media Bank. There's only one problem: it's standard definition, and that upsets us.
So, what does the disgo Media Bank do? Well, first off, you can connect it to your computer over USB2 and copy files to its built-in 500GB hard drive. That's a handy feature if you download stuff off the Web and want to watch it on your TV, but there's no network socket, so you'll need to move the disgo to your computer every time you want to transfer something. Happily there are compact flash and SD/MMC readers too, which offer another route to get video, photos and music on to your TV.
You can also set the disgo to record from your digital set-top box, enabling you to record your favourite TV shows to the hard drive. To be honest, we'd far rather the company had put a digital tuner in the machine itself, because recording over Scart -- oh, did we not mention? You have to use Scart -- really doesn't cut the mustard these days.
We plugged the disgo Media Bank into our Panasonic plasma TV to see what the interface looked like, and what files it would play. The good news is that while it's happy with XviD and MPEG-2 video, regrettably it wouldn't play QuickTime or WMV. The interface was simple but not especially beautiful, and to begin with the picture quality was terrible, with jagged lines around everything and nasty patterning everywhere. This was improved slightly by setting the box to output progressive video, but the picture was still far from brilliant.
And that's the main problem with the disgo. It's an analogue product in a digital world. Sure, it'll play your digital media, to a point, but it only features analogue outputs, which is just crazy. We can understand this is necessary for recording from Freeview, but for outputting it's a missed opportunity and seriously degrades the picture quality.
At least Archos had the decency to include an HDMI socket on itsand the ability to record TV via component inputs. If we're honest, in the days of flat panels, that really is the least we'd expect a company to include.
Given the choice between buying this and the Archos TV+, which is more expensive and scored 5.3 in our review, we'd suggest the TV+ is a better buy. And we think that probably speaks volumes. The Media Bank costs £170 and is available from the disgo Web site. –Ian Morris
Update: A previous version of this story alerted readers to the disgo Web site's out-of-date security certificate. disgo has since updated this.