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LaCie LaCinema Black Record review: LaCie LaCinema Black Record

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The Good Attractive design.

The Bad Won't play 1080p; won't tune in all available TV channels; keeps selecting the wrong audio channel on Freeview; fan is far too loud; remote control is useless; too expensive.

The Bottom Line The LaCie LaCinema Black Record looks like a slick package but lets itself down with a useless remote, loud fan and inability to play 1080p files. We wanted to like this machine, but it's just one failure after the next. It's possible LaCie will address our concerns with firmware updates, but we'd suggest you avoid this product, unless, for some reason, you just want a stylish black box with a blue light for your front room. For media streaming, get a Popcorn Hour and, for Freeview recording, get a proper PVR

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5.5 Overall

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LaCie has a long-established reputation for producing some lovely-looking and quite desirable kit. From monitors to hard drives, its offerings always look as cool as a cucumber. The LaCie LaCinema Black Record is no exception. It's a glossy black piece of tech that will look great in even the trendiest lounge.

It also makes some impressive promises. There's a Freeview-capable receiver that can record TV shows onto the built-in hard drive (the 500GB version costs around £365, and the 1TB version costs about £420), and it can also play a variety of media formats, as well as your photos and music. Can this attractive package win over our hearts, as well as our eyes?

Remote control
We don't relish starting on a negative note, but the LaCinema's remote is one of the first things we took out of the box, and, from the moment we set eyes on it, we realised it was going to be like a thorn in the bottom.

It is, you see, made out of plastic, with some thoroughly ghastly rubberised buttons -- the most prominent of which is the multi-directional control. The rubberised buttons really don't work especially well, and we found that button presses weren't at all positive. To make matters worse, the labelling of the keys isn't entirely logical.

On the plus side, the LaCinema does tell you on-screen what button does what. That's a really good feature, and it makes the lack of sensible labelling on the remote much less of an issue. After a while, we began to grow used to the remote, but it's still far from a desirable device.

Body beautiful
There are two delightful things about the LaCinema. The first is the external styling, which is really very cool indeed. The second is the attractive user interface, which matches the awesome external design and makes us very happy indeed. The LaCinema certainly gives Apple's products a run for their money in this regard.

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A USB socket is conveniently located on the front of the machine -- ideal if you want to plug in a memory stick and watch some video or look at photos quickly

At the back of the machine, you'll find the usual connections: a pair of USB inputs, HDMI out, digital audio out and component/composite connections. As you would expect, you'll see aerial connections for the built-in TV tuner, too.

The front of the machine is broken up only by a single USB input, designed to offer a convenient way for you to plug in USB memory cards and enjoy the contents quickly on your TV.

Recording from TV or other sources
We were looking forward to seeing how the LaCinema handles Freeview recording. After stabbing at the remote control for a while, we found ourselves getting cross. Not only was the remote making our experience thoroughly miserable, the device was also not finding a full complement of channels. We repeated the scan, but didn't manage to improve the situation.

We were able to record quite easily from the tuned channels though. It's a simple matter of pressing the red record button. Sadly, the LaCinema is a single-tuner device, so you can't record one channel and watch another at the same time. That's a great shame. Adding a second tuner wouldn't really increase the cost of the hardware by very much.

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