CNET logo Why You Can Trust CNET

Our expert, award-winning staff selects the products we cover and rigorously researches and tests our top picks. If you buy through our links, we may get a commission. Reviews ethics statement

Conceptronic Grab 'n' Go Multimedia Player review: Conceptronic Grab 'n' Go Multimedia Player

The Grab 'n' Go Multimedia Player makes a decent play at the budget-end of the playback market — but its limitations are obvious.

Alex Kidman
Alex Kidman is a freelance word writing machine masquerading as a person, a disguise he's managed for over fifteen years now, including a three year stint at ZDNet/CNET Australia. He likes cats, retro gaming and terrible puns.
Alex Kidman
3 min read

Conceptronic's Grab 'n' Go CSM3PL 3,5" Multimedia Player — which, if you're interested, uses the European notation for decimal places (namely, a comma), because the company behind it is Dutch — isn't the most attractive of TV playback devices out there. It's a small (177x163x44mm) SATA enclosure with front facing card and USB reader ports, and rear ports for S-Video, VGA, composite, component and optical audio out.


Conceptronic Grab 'n' Go Multimedia Player

The Good

Low asking price. Card and USB slots.

The Bad

No Ethernet. No HDMI. No TV tuner. Slow file copying. Intermittent audio feedback.

The Bottom Line

The Grab 'n' Go Multimedia Player makes a decent play at the budget-end of the playback market — but its limitations are obvious.

One slight design oddity that took us a little by surprise when first setting up the Grab 'n' Go is that although the default on-screen language is English, Dutch takes priority placement in the product manual. For all that it is a multilingual affair, however, it at least avoids the trap of many other similar manuals, in that it's fairly well translated.

The Grab 'n' Go CSM3PL is primarily a multimedia playback device, with no particular aspirations towards PVR style performance. It's arguably a drawback for the device; while at $199 it's by no means expensive, it's not that much more to get a PVR device with many (if not all) of the Grab 'n' Go CSM3PL's features, especially with consumers only likely to want to have one device sitting underneath their TVs.

In any case, the review sample submitted to CNET.com.au featured a 320GB Western Digital SATA hard drive — it's up to you to populate it with music, pictures and video.

On the music front, the Grab 'n' Go CSM3PL supports WAV, WMA and MP3; pictures are limited to JPG only. Video playback support includes XviD, MPEG1/2/4, AVI, SVCD, VCD (3.0/2.0/1.0) IFO/DVD and VOB. You can add or view files from the front slots — (CF, MD, SD, MMC, SM and MS). It's been a long, long while since we've seen Smart Media support on anything, and we'll go out on a limb here and say that no Grab 'n' Go CSM3PL units sold in Australia will collect anything but dust in their Smart Media slots. However, we digress.

The other way to view files is to copy them direct to the internal 320MB hard drive. This can be done from the front media slots, or by connecting up the Grab 'n' Go CSM3PL to a PC via the mini USB socket on the back of the unit, where it'll function as a normal removable drive.

The Grab 'n' Go CSM3PL's boot speed is about average for a hard disk-equipped multimedia centre, and we were struck during set-up as to how it was rather hampered by the lack of HDMI support; at a bare minimum you'll be running at least two cables out of the Grab 'n' Go CSM3PL, and more than that if you're not using the optical audio output.

Menu navigation was rather slow, and this wasn't helped by the rather twitchy remote control. Still, with only basic playback duties on offer, it wasn't too hard to get the unit up and running ... and buzzing. For whatever reason, the stereo output on the Grab 'n' Go CSM3PL had an intermittent feedback problem with some of the TVs we connected up to. It wasn't persistent, but it was quite common across a lot of testing media, and annoying as well. Switching to optical audio removed it, thankfully.

As mentioned, it's possible to copy files directly from the front media slots, but this is both a rather unintuitive and slow procedure. Copying direct from an 8GB USB Flash drive we managed a rather meagre 3MBps to the Grab 'n' Go CSM3PL. Copying from a PC directly connected, jumped up to a much more respectable 20MBps.

The Grab 'n' Go CSM3PL is ultimately a very entry-level product, and at an asking price of AU$199, it's fair but not great value for money. The lack of features found in just slightly higher end products — such as HDMI for simple connection, Ethernet for file sharing and UPnP streaming, or a digital tuner for PVR functionality — do make it a less compelling gadget than it might have been just a year or two ago.