Life is complicated. You have to make tough decisions every moment of every day. When do you take your morning coffee break, which pub do you go to after work, which game do you spend your weekly allowance on? All difficult, but the decision about how to watch media in the lounge is possibly the toughest of all. Is Compro's VideoMate T1000W making things more or less complicated?

It's all about what you really want though, isn't it? Do you simply want a box where you can stream all the content from your PC or network drives onto your HD telly? Or do you want a functional PC in the lounge so you can surf and play from the comfort of your sofa?

Both of these needs can be taken care of simply and for the same sort of price as the VideoMate T1000W in a modern games console, or a small PC such as the Aspire Revo.

What the T1000W promises is nothing to do with locating Sarah Conner, but delivering a low-power, upgradeable, one-stop multi-media device. It's a sexy bit of kit that won't look out of place in a living room and, with the extra outlay of an internal 3.5-inch SATA hard drive, makes the perfect digital player and recorder.

The built-in DVB-T tuner gives you access to all the Freeview channels floating around, and the always impressive Compro software and electronic program guide make it simple to plan your recordings.

A dual-tuner would have been preferable though, offering the chance to record and watch different channels, something that a great many of Compro's PC tuners offer, but other than that the package is fairly faultless. It can take a while to start the device when it's been unplugged, but the remote is incredibly responsive and the software simple to navigate.

You can also load up the software with torrent files from your PC and set them going when the machine is not in use, so you don't have to have your PC running noon and night to fulfil your media needs.

The difficulty in recommending the T1000W, though, lies in the other devices around. The Aspire Revo can do all the media playback the Compro device can offer, plus its share of browsing, but lacks the tuner and possible storage upgrades. A console such as the Xbox can stream your PC's media, but is limited in file type and is a power-hungry beast.

If it's purely about the media in your lounge then the T1000W wins hands down. It's well made and easy to use, but the price of the base unit and extra SATA drive might just give you a little pause for thought.

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