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Stored media is becoming nearly invisible, a far cry from the days when music albums, video cassettes, and snapshots crammed shelves and drawers. Today's digital content can be sequestered on your network or stashed on a server. Yet, retrieval is merely a matter of picking up the remote. Remember when you actually had to get up off the sofa to find a CD and put it back? So inefficient!
Enter LaCie's LaCinema Mini HD, a full HD Wi-Fi media receiver/player that at less than 5-inches wide and deep would be entirely hidden under a single DVD if it weren't for its 1.5-inch height. Connected to your big screen TV, the box seems especially diminutive. Yet, under the black glossy finish is a 500-Gigabyte hard drive capable of holding 10,000 pictures, thousands of songs, hundreds of movies, or a combination of all three.
You could fill up LaCinema by parking it next to your computer using the included USB cable to transfer content. Weighing less than a pound, LaCinema Mini HD is portable enough to be carried across your living room or across the continent, ready to be plugged into any HDTV set or home theater using the included HDMI cable.
But playing internally loaded content is the least of what LaCinema can do. It also plays content from a USB flash drive, USB hard drive, card reader, or camera you plug in. Best of all, it's a streamer, plucking media out of the air from your Wi-Fi network at up to 802.11n speed through a built-in antenna. Alternatively, it accepts content through the included Ethernet cable. Either way, your images, recordings, and videos can be stored on a networked computer in another room or on a network attached storage (NAS) device such as LaCie's Network Space 2. The latter, which is only slightly larger than the LaCinema Mini itself, contains a 1-terrabyte hard drive. Using the supplied Ethernet cable, it plugs into an RJ-45 jack on your router. That way, content stored on the Network Space 2 is available to devices throughout your network.
Both the LaCinema Mini HD and Network Space 2 were created by award-winning Paris-based designer Neil Poulton, so the two components share the same clean lines, shiny black surfaces, and cool blue glow from their embedded LEDs. Poulton has designed a variety of LaCie products, including the Mini's bigger brother, LaCinema Classic HD, which comes with 1TB of storage.
The LaCinema Mini HD puts out a maximum resolution of 1920 x 1080p, making the most of your HDTV display. It can upscale standard definition video to 1080p. The Mini supports a variety of video types including AVI, MP4, WMV, DivX, MOV, MPEG, VOB, and DVR-MS. Among audio formats it plays are MP3, WMA, WAV, and AAC. There's slide show support for JPEG, PNG, GIF, BMP, and TIF files.
Though using the HDMI cable is the way to display high definition content, there's also a one-pin to composite video/stereo cable included for use with older TV sets. There's an optical audio (S/PDIF) output on the Mini, too, though the cable isn't included. A 17-button remote lets you sit back and control the show, turning your TV into a digital media center.
The Network Space 2 is compatible with Apple's Time Machine. A front USB port enables you to expand the storage capacity or connect a backup drive. A rear USB port can be connected directly to a computer. There are cooling vents on the device's underside. The drive operates quietly. As soon as you connect the Network Space 2 to your router, you can share media files stored on it with any compatible UPnP AV adapters and players, including the LaCinema Mini HD.
Together, LaCie's Network Space 2 and LaCinema Mini HD are team players for storing and serving up all your digital media while consuming a fraction of the space you once set aside to stockpile your old media.