Conceptronic Grab'N'GO Full HD Media Player review
With its black, heavy-set, brushed aluminium body and stylish M-shaped stand, the Conceptronic Full HD Media Player is one of the more aesthetically pleasing streamers on the market and would coordinate nicely with a modern home cinema setup. Power and network access LEDs are the extent of activity at the front and connectivity at the rear includes Composite, Component, S-video, HDMI and coaxial S/PDIF audio, along with an Ethernet 10/100/1000 port.
Users will have no problems hooking the device up and it's nice to see that all the necessary cables are provided in the box, but one area that has been sadly overlooked is the presence of built-in wireless. While you can pick up a compatible USB dongle (though there's only one USB port on the back, it is possible to daisy-chain multiple devices using a powered dock) we really think this should be supplied as standard, considering the capabilities of modern wireless in successfully streaming HD media over the air.
Getting things up and running "should" be straightforward, since the device auto-detects display and network settings and offers a choice of SAMBA or UPnP sharing, with a simple server application provided to select shared folders from a host machine. Our experience was less straightforward however, and due to various reasons we were left manually selecting display and network settings before we saw stable operation.
The main interface of the Conceptronic is simple but attractive enough, offering access to network shares or connected USB storage in video, music and photo views. Videos and photos are searchable by folder, and the music menu offers this option along with more traditional album/artist/genre, making the device quite suitable for handling large collections.
Conceptronic lists some impressive format support and includes less common H.264, MKV and WMV9 along with ISO, VOB and IFO for those who like to rip DVDs to a hard drive. We ran through a selection of test files using some pretty random audio and video codecs and file types and were generally pleased with the results, with the vast majority playing back first time without issue. Searching back and forth through files and pause/resume is responsive for the most part, and even at the maximum 1080p resolution the Conceptronic put in a very impressive showing. Quality is very good and playback control is decent, offering subtitle and language track support along with zoom controls for video.
In addition to local media playback there are also a range of options for connecting to online services such as Live365, SHOUTcast and YouTube. Unfortunately these seem to be rather token efforts, and while streaming quality is good there are no options to search for content by keywords and notably in regard to YouTube, no ability to search back and forth through a clip once it is playing. A range of standard search and browse options are available for categories, favourites and top-rated content, but the only way to access your favourite clips or stations with ease is to add URLs to a list of online media links via the Media Server application on a computer.
A few nice touches include the ability to control music playing in the background while browsing other features via a mini "background music" tool that can be activated at any time. It's also possible to set up NFS shares over a network, share files using P2P via a Bittorrent client and the supplied remote control, despite having a typically cheap feel, is well laid out and easy to interpret.
Overall Conceptronic puts in a fair showing with the Grab'n'Go and is certainly one of the more capable devices on the market, offering good file support and performance at a reasonable price. It's not without its faults, however, and with one particularly capable rival in the Western Digital WD TV Live doing the rounds at a lower price, we were left wondering if Conceptronic laid its cards on the table just a few months too late.