This is a good option is storage is your main concern
Good storage capacity
Can record directly from source
PVR functionality is shallow
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The Disgo Media Bank describes itself as a "digital video, picture and music player".
It's essentially a 500GB external hard disk drive with a simplistic menu, built-in audio/video codecs and a remote control.
Disgo has, however, slapped on an extra layer of functionality to set the Media Bank apart from other multimedia-themed drives. In addition to its digital audio/video playback and JPEG slide shows, the Disgo Media Bank can also record video.
This is an external HDD that claims to be a PVR.
Store 500GB of entertainment
So you can hook the Disgo Media Bank up to a Freeview or Sky+ box (via composite AV cables and a Scart adapter) and directly grab video. It also works with DVD players. Ripped footage is converted into an AVI file on the fly.
You've got to look harder for the Media Bank's so-called PVR talents. Delve into the Record options and you'll find a rudimentary start/stop timer function.
This mimics an old VHS player by recording whatever channel you've selected. There are six slots for one-off scheduled recordings - no clever 'series link' or repeat options though. On the 'high' setting (640x480 pixels), an hour of recorded video will take up about 600MB of storage space.
The Disgo Media Bank also features an 'Auto Stop' recording option. You can find something similar on the Archos range of PMPs. It enables you to record a selected channel or capture a video source for a certain period of time (say two hours) before stopping.
This mode is ideal for dumping content you've already recorded to the hard disk overnight. You can then convert the AVI files again to play on a portable device.
In our tests the quality of the recorded video on the Disgo Media Bank was hit-and-miss – playback was decent enough when a show was recorded as a one-off. In comparison, video was often juddery and jumpy when a scheduled recording was tried.
DivX file playback
Beyond its primitive PVR functionality, the Disgo Media Bank is still a versatile playback device. For starters, it supports a wide range of video formats, including: VOB, DivX 3.11, 4x, 5x, XVID, MP4 and AVI files. Photos are limited to JPEGs, but MP3, WMA, AC3, AAC and WAV codecs are built-in for audio.
As hard disk drives go, the Disgo Media Bank is reasonably attractive, thanks to its clean lines and electric blue LEDs. It's squat, yet curvy shape is eerily reminiscent of Sega's failed Saturn games console.
On the right-hand side of the box, there are SD/MMC/CF memory card slots; while around the back you'll find the two AV-in jacks, AC-in and a USB port.
The Media Bank easily connects to a PC or Mac via USB and can be browsed just like any other standalone hard disk.
If there's a criticism it's that this media player/HDD combo can't be networked in any way - there's no Ethernet
port or Wi-Fi module to enable remote access. The barely graphical menu system is also poor – navigating between the various menu options is often sluggish, a delay caused by the 3.5-inch SATA hard drive spinning up.
The Media Bank doesn't break any new ground – it's a roomy external hard disk with a remote-controlled menu. The TVIX HD M4000P, for example, matches the Media Bank's 500GB capacity and media playback options. The Archos TV+ has similar recording capabilities and a prettier menu system, but only half the storage capacity.
While many manufacturers are attempting to use UPnP streaming technologies to bridge the gap between thecomputer and the TV, the Disgo Media Bank has no such ambitions.
It's more expensive than a comparable 500GB HDD, so you're paying the extra for some fairly basic PVR functionality.