Hey folks, Valkor here. FreeAgent Go, FreeAgent Dock, FreeAgent Dockstar – three products, one company, all passed Val-Cave testing. But Seagate says there not done with Val… yet. And what they have up their sleeves will change the way you watch your digital films. Take one FreeAgent Go HDD (Hard Drive) and incorporate it into one device that will make it capable of playing back your music, movies, and photos with the ease of use that Seagate is proud of and what do you get? You get the FreeAgent Theater+.
The FreeAgent Theater+, on the outset, looks like a very miniature Playstation 3, especially when you insert a silver FreeAgent Go drive. The front of the device has a USB port, and at the rear has an additional USB port as well as all the media connections you'll need (Composite, Component, HDMI, Optical). It's lightweight, has a nice glossy coating, and slim enough to fit inside any carryon for on the go movie watching – if the set you're gonna plug it into has all the right ports. The Theater+ comes with all everything you need to get started right out the box, minus an HDMI plug. Thankfully I have an HDMI for my Playstation 3, which works works perfectly. Finally the Theater+ comes with a remote control, which is your only link to access the device's innards.
Once plugged in Theater+ takes you to a very simple menu screen, which gives you the options of Movie, Pictures, Music, Internet, and Devices. When I clicked on any of the first three options there was nothing inside. You have to select devices first and then select FreeAgent Go as your selected device. From there you can access any of three – even from within folders. Maneuvering through the menus was actually smooth, with no loading or stalls.
So the big question is – what formats does the Theater+ chew up and spit back at ya? On the offset you have Divx, which would have been an automatic FAIL had it not had that format. After that you have for video - MPEG-1, 2, Divx/Xvid (including HD), AVI, MOV, MKV, RMVB, WMV9, AVC HD, H.264, and M-PEG 4. For Audio you have – MP3, AAC, ASF, FLAC, WAV, WMA, OGG and you can even load your playlist using the M3U or PLS formats. Finally for photos you have JPEG, BMP, TIFF, GIF, and PNG. Finally Theater+ can be hooked to the internet either direct through a LAN (Ethernet) port or Wi-Fi (using a USB WI-FI adapter).
Oh and kudos to Seagate for tossing in the FreeAgent Go PC 500GB with included Star Trek film 2009 film. But even if I didn't have that, I do have digital films thanks to Warner Home and their BD vids, which include digital vids. And now on with the show.
The Theater+ HD is just what the doctor ordered! Now I can watch all my digital films direct from the Go drive without having to wait, burning em on DVD or worrying if my PS3 will can handle the format (which is still quite limited). The Theater+ ate everything I fed to it and spat out some quality HD audio and video. Next up is ease of use. Once you load your drive full of movies, photos and music, all you need do is plug in the drive to the Theater+, sit back, relax and enjoy; no instructions needed. It's really that easy! The menu system plus remote are all very intuitive. Video Quality is dependent on the size and quality of vid you have. Since mine are HD quality, they look fantastic! Though not as sharp as I'd like it to be, at the highest settings, video looks amazing in glorious HD, which you can go as high as 1080p. Plus you can stop at any point, especially when you're playing with the options and the film will restart right where you left off. Audio is the same; again dependent of the quality you download/prefer it will either sound great at its highest or soft and somewhat muted at the lowest. With photos you get a nice thumbnail screen and a smooth transition when viewing, plus you can have music playing in the background. So small, yet so amazing! Finally it's such a small and compact device that it will sit discreetly around your entertainment set. Plus it's the perfect size for travel. I for one find that to be a BIG PLUS, because it'd be nice to watch a movie on the big TV rather than the small laptop screen.
Again the video quality isn't as sharp as it could be and I think that can be fixed through a firmware update (which you can get through a WI-FI connection or download it onto a USB and update it from there). Another fix would be to put the settings option on the main screen rather than having to push the menu button. What can also help, is to keep a still of the video in the background so it will make adjusting the video that much easier. Lastly, there needs to be more video adjustment options to improve sharpness and color. Again I think that can all be fixed with a firmware update. Oh and it gets really hot, so no prolong views.
To all media nuts out there, Seagate's Theater+ HD is your calling. No more having to burn films onto DVDs to watch em, or stream through a media server, which we all know is far from perfect to set up and keep it going with sputtering. Now you can slap all those digital files onto a Go drive or USB flash drive, and play em right through the Theater+ HD with ease and oh yea... you can take it with you too. Though it has some minor hiccups, it ultimately gets the job done. And out of TOV 5 stars, I give Seagate's Theater+ HD Media Player 4 stars and it's been Valkor tested, TOV Approved!