With a lot of personal video recorders flooding the market, companies must offer a device that is quick to set up, simple to operate, and offers a lot for its price. The Media Titan is a black box made out of hard plastic - sure it may not be as pleasing to the eye as other PVRs, but we prefer this box for its simplicity. Up front, users can find a USB port, an IR receiver, three status LEDs, and a reset button. There are no buttons or switches up front, so users must make sure that the remote is always within reach.
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The rear panel hosts the digital tuners (in and out), video/audio out, digital optical audio out, HDMI out, USB connector (to computer), Ethernet port, two USB-host ports, and an AC power connector. The Media Titan comes with RCA jacks as well as a HDMI cable, allowing users to hook the unit up to any CRT TV or HD TV. Users must provide their own Ethernet cable or use the built-in Wi-Fi (Wireless-N) to connect to the home network and a spare RF antenna to connect the unit to the TV.
The Titan needs to be configured when you turn the unit on for the first time. During the start up procedure, you will be asked to select your language, country, time zone, current time and date, TV aspect ratio, and parental control. After the setup is complete, the unit will display the main menu.
The user interface is well-labelled and is easy to navigate. The menu consists of four main icons: TV, Music, Video/Photo, and Setup. The TV icon will allow you to watch TV, organise recording, and view the EPG, Music will allow you to listen to music and make playlists, Video/Photo will allow you to watch your recorded programs, create a photo slide show, and watch your video camera recording, while the Setup will allow you to view or modify the settings of the Titan.
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While the interface is easy to navigate, it would take some time for users to get used to the remote. Although some of the icons are easy to understand (Power, Volume up and down, Record, Stop, Mute, and Information), other 'generic buttons' are not so easy to understand. Icons such as Main Menu, Navigation Mode, and Display are the icons that take some time to get used to. The unit is also slow, with the unit sometimes lagging for a couple of seconds before us being able to move further.
The first time you select the 'TV' section, the Media Titan will scan for available channels. When the scan is complete, users will receive a notification popup. Clicking the navigation wheel will bring you the channels. Just like a normal remote control, users can switch channels by pressing up or down on the navigation wheel. The unit will display the Channel, EPG bar (shows how long the program is already being broadcasted on the TV), and the show's information.
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The timeshift buffer allows you to 'pause' the current channel and continue on a later time. When the channel is paused, the unit will continue recording in the timeshift buffer on the background. If you change channels, the timeshift is erased and starts over on the new channel.
Users can also record your favourite TV programs instantly by pressing the record button on the remote. Upon pressing the record button, the Titan starts recording in its default recording length. Users can adjust the recording time to increase or decrease the default recording time with steps of 30 minutes. Users can also schedule a recording using the EPG function. Pressing the Hand button on the remote opens the option menu and will then take you to the EPG. The EPG allowed us to pre-set the shows that we wanted to record, although the programs listed were not accurate.
For example, we pre-set the Titan to record Nine's 'Two and a Half Men' supposedly airing at 11:00am. Unfortunately, that is not the show airing at that time - 11:00am is Nine's Morning News. The EPG system on the device is obviously inaccurate (as our Samsung TV displayed the right show) and will cause problems for users who do not know what time their favourite show is on. This is a problem that should be fixed as pre-recording is one of the more important features people look for in a PVR.
Users can transfer audio, video, and photo files from a computer to the Titan using the USB connector. Windows will automatically recognise the new hardware and will show the Media Titan as an external storage device. Transferring files from the computer to the Titan takes a lot of time, so be prepared to wait for a long time before having access to all your files. The Titan can play H.264 MKV, XviD, WMV9, MOV, M2TS, TS, ISO, MPEG 1/2/4, AVI, SVCD, VCD, BMP, GIFF, JPEG, PNG, MP3, OGG, WAV, and WMA files.
As previously mentioned, the device can be hooked up to your network via the Ethernet port or wirelessly. The unit supports UPnP connectivity, so users need to have a media server on your system or a NAS with built in UPnP server. Audio and video playback was acceptable using the Ethernet connection, although we experienced slight lags while streaming HD videos using the wireless network. Connecting a USB device to the Titan will also allow a user to view photos, videos or audio files without the need to copy it to the device.
While the Conceptronic Media Titan CMT2DW is a good PVR/Media Player, there are still a couple of issues that should be addressed. The sluggish interface, inaccurate EPG, and confusing remote commands can cause a lot of problems, especially for inexperienced users. The unit is available now with an RRP of $799 (without a hard drive). Hipgizmos is offering a 1TB Western Digital AV Drive (WD10EVCS) for an additional $200.