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Seagate FreeAgent Theater review

Unfortunately it promises much, and delivers little

Seagate FreeAgent Theater
The FreeAgent Theater promises much but in the end, it's a let-down


  • Simple to use
  • Supports 1080i video, Dolby Digital 5.1, AVI, VOB, DivX. Xvid and subtitles


  • No 1080p output
  • No HDMI
  • No MKV playback

Seagate's FreeAgent Theater media player is designed to make it easier to transfer digital files such as videos, music and still images from your PC to your telly.

The idea is that you connect it to your TV via composite, S-video or component video, and stereo analogue or optical audio; hookup your storage device, navigate via the OSD and control playback using the remote.

Unfortunately, while the FreeAgent Theater seems to work pretty well, it's missing some vital features. And sadly there are plenty of competing products out there, which are generally either more powerful, more compact, cheaper, or some combination of the three.


Its unique feature is that it's primarily designed for use with Seagate's FreeAgent Go portable hard drives (prices start at around £70), and has a docking slot specifically shaped for them; although it will work with any USB storage device.

However, it seems a bit ridiculous to think that anyone would buy one of these drives just for use with the FreeAgent Theater – especially as you only really need a low-end USB stick to transport files across.

And while Seagate boasts that the FreeAgent Theater can playback full-HD video files, that's only half true. It can indeed play 1080p DivX files – but can only output them in 720p or 1080i – there isn't even an HDMI-out port.

It can't play Matroska (MKV) files either – which is the file format of choice for most user-encoded HD video out there.

There are some plus points though - the FreeAgent Theater does support external subtitle files. So if you were to download a movie in a foreign language, you could download a companion subtitle file and the player will sync it all up for you.

And so while the Seagate FreeAgent Theater is a useful device for anyone who wants to playback downloaded content on their living room TVs, we wouldn't recommend it over rival efforts - especially for £90.

Western Digital's WDTV, for example, is a far more accomplished product.

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