CNET editors pick the products and services we write about. When you buy through our links, we may get a commission.
Despite having one of the most ludicrous names we've ever heard, the Conceptronic Grab'n'Go Full HD Media Player has a simple purpose -- it streams media over your network and shows it on your TV. We're fans of pretty much anything that features video-streaming capability, but the Grab'n'Go is entering an increasingly crowded marketplace, with every company from Netgear to Western Digital getting in on the act.
So can the Grab'n'Go challenge existing devices, such as perennial favourite the Popcorn Hour A-110? Also, with an asking price of around £170, is it pricing itself out of the market, especially considering that the network-ready Western Digital WD TV Live is now available for less than £100?
Ford Model T of media streamers
Henry Ford made the automobile popular in the US by keeping the concept simple. The Ford Model T was a car that got you from A to B with no fuss and few frills. The Grab'n'Go is much the same -- it gets video, photos and audio from a USB source or via your home network and plays them on your TV. That's all. This makes it an ideal choice for people who want to access their media on their TV without the hassle of hooking up a laptop or using a more complicated device.
Fly me to the moon
When you take the Grab'n'Go out of its box, you'll notice that it has an unusual appearance. The main unit has an oval shape, but with a couple of ridges on the bottom that will balance it on a flat surface, should you choose to place it on one. The second option is to mount it on a small stand, into which the media player can slide. The ridge that supports the player when you place it on a flat surface now locks the device into its cradle, keeping it secure. Very clever.
Once in its stand, you'll notice that the Grab'n'Go looks like a rocket ship. That's very cool. Indeed, the machine is generally aesthetically pleasing. There is basically nothing to distract the eye on its front surface, save for a lone, dual-colour LED. On the back, you get an HDMI port, Ethernet jack, composite video sockets, and a single USB connection. You have a choice of sending audio via the HDMI or S/PDIF port. There are also stereo RCA jacks, in the event that you don't have a surround-sound amp but still want to get improved stereo sound.
The remote control looks quite basic. It's perfectly fine in use though, and we have no real complaints about its responsiveness. From a software point of view, however, there are times when the device doesn't pay attention to your orders, and the fast-forward speed isn't anywhere near rapid enough.
Unimpressive user interface
Upon firing up the Grab'n'Go, you'll be presented with a simple user interface. The set-up process is, for the most part, automatic. We didn't need to configure the network settings at all -- we just plugged the Grab'n'Go in and, seconds later, we were browsing our list of computers and were able to select our media-hosting PC.
If you insert a USB storage device, it's listed in the same menu, and you can browse the device for video, audio or photos. As with so many of these devices, if you press the photo button and try to look for music, you'll come up with nothing. This is messy and pointless -- we'd rather see a more innovative approach to the user interface.
There really aren't that many extra features, although you do get access to some online services, like Shoutcast audio and YouTube video. These are decent-enough features to have, but the user interface isn't particularly enticing, and we can't see these functions getting much use.
Super picture quality
The important question is: how does video look via the Grab'n'Go? Well, everything we tested looked fabulous. We had no problem with 1080p video in almost any format, and everything played smoothly, with no judder. There was no noticeable drop in image quality due to the original file living on a PC either, which is good news indeed.
We tested short demo clips of movies like Kung Fu Panda and Casino Royale. They all looked brilliant. The massive amount of detail in 1080p video was especially notable. We expected that to be the case with this machine and were very pleased to be proved right.
No lossless audio for movies
Unlike the Popcorn Hour A-110 and many other streamers, the Grab'n'Go can't pass out Dolby TrueHD or DTS-HD MA audio. This is because it only supports HDMI 1.1, so it simply can't pass enough data over the interface to support these newer formats. This is rather disappointing. The Grab'n'Go will, however, cope with DTS and Dolby Digital in their lossy 5.1 formats. That's better than nothing, but not ideal for the audiophile.
On the flip side, though, FLAC is supported. If you're a music lover with loads of lossless music in this format, this fact will surely prove a big plus.
Very simple networking
We usually have problems getting media players to see our Windows XP-based machine on our corporate network. That wasn't the case with the Grab'n'Go -- it worked like a dream, immediately finding our test computer in the midst of hundreds of others. Our shared folder was available, and video played flawlessly without any stuttering. In short, the device's networking performance was impressive.
The Conceptronic Grab'n'Go Full HD Media Player is undoubtedly a good media streamer, but it's too expensive. For this price, you could buy a Western Digital WD TV Live and still have plenty of tenners left. That said, the network functionality of the Grab'n'Go outshines that of the WD TV Live. You'll have to decide whether you're willing to splash out more cash for greater simplicity.
Edited by Charles Kloet