Following the success of the LaCinema Classic Bridge., an accessory for USB external hard drives that plays multimedia content stored on the hard drive, LaCie announced on Monday its
The main difference between the two is the fact that the WD TV works with only USB external hard drives, when the LaCinema can handle both a 3.5-inch internal hard drive (not included) and an external USB hard drive. This also means the LaCinema is much larger than the WD TV.
Other than that, the idea is simple: you just insert an internal hard drive (or plug in a USB external one) that contains multimedia content, such as movies, photos, and music into the LaCinema and connect the player to a TV via its HDMI connector. Now, you have a digital content player, much like a DVD player, that plays the content on the big screen.
In my opinion, this is a much better way to play movies than traditional DVD or Blu-ray players, as the loading time is much faster and you don't have to worry about looking for the optical disks. The trick is how to get the movie in a compressed format, which takes time if you want to do that by yourself.
The most popular compress format for hi-def content is Matroska (also known as MKV). Unfortunately, the LaCinema doesn't seem to support it. For video, it supports MPEG-4, AVI, XviD, and DivX. It also suports MP3, WMA for audio and JPEG, and HD-JPEG for images. Overall, its list of supported formats is shorter than that of the WD TV, which offers great support for MKV.
The LaCinema supports hi-def resolution up to 1080p and comes with a HDMI cable. It's available now for $99, about the same price as the WD TV. Other than these, you can also consider Seagate's FreeAgent Theater HD Media Player, which costs more than $200.