The first thing you notice about the LaCie LaCinema Black Record is that light just falls into it. This squat, glossy black box is clearly intent on reminding you of the monolith from 2001: A Space Odyssey at every possible opportunity. The other thing you notice is that, not only is this media streamer hungry for light, it's also got an appetite for fingerprints. The LaCinema is designed by someone called Neil Poulton, who is apparently a Scottish designer living in Paris.
Now, we don't want to be mean here, but we're not sure what LaCie is paying him the big euros for. This isn't the first thing to be encased in shiny black plastic -- we hear Darth Vader is planning a multi-billion dollar lawsuit. The rest of the design is fairly straightforward. It's a box with a blue light on the front that illuminates whichever surface you place it on. Still, we don't wish to be overly critical here, because the LaCinema does look pretty good and it certainly won't clash with your other home-cinema equipment.
More exciting than the design, of course, is the promise of what the LaCie LaCinema can achieve technically. It's HD capable, although it can only output at up to 1080i, which is slightly irritating in a world that exists in 1080p. It can, however, decode files encoded in 1080p. MP3 and JPEG files are no problem either, as you'd expect, which will help to liven up parties no end.
The built in DVB-T recorder is also able to record from any free-to-air channels you can tune in. It's like any PVR, so you can pause and rewind live TV. There's a programme guide that allows you to pre-program the LaCie to record a show at a specific time and in our initial hands-on, we rather liked how this worked.
It's worth pointing out that the remote supplied with the LaCinema is horrific. It's small, squat and really hard to use. The buttons are rubber and don't have a positive feel -- this is especially problematic with the directional clicker at the top of the remote. You could always use a universal remote, of course, but that's not really the point, is it?
LaCinema Black Record is £365 for the 500GB version and £420 for the 1TB system. And don't worry -- whatever the outcome of Darth Vader's lawsuit, you won't be liable for damages. A full review will be on the site soon.