Full bodied, feature rich.
When selecting “Video In”, any external source like a VCR, camcorder or decoder can be played on the Grand Entertainer. This is also a good time to talk about the timed recorder wherein you can select a specific time (from and to) when the Grand Entertainer will capture a feed from the Video In and store it on its internal HDD. The setup is extremely easy as the interface makes it a matter of making a few selections after which you can let the Grand Entertainer take care of the rest. Once recorded, you can always transfer the file to any external device.
Finally, I’ll quickly touch on the Bit Torrent feature. Before you get into that, you have to setup the Grand Entertainer over network with your PC. Once the Grand Entertainer is linked to your PC as a network drive, you can then access its Torrent client via your browser. Downloading a video or audio file onto the Grand Entertainer is a simple process of selecting the .torrent file and adding it to queue. Changes can be made to allow different speeds for download and upload as well as setting priorities on different torrents. It’s pretty nifty if you don’t want to go through the hassle of transferring or streaming the file from your PC, but instead, enjoying your movies directly on the Grand Entertainer from your living room or bedroom.
The Imation Grand Entertainer has a lot going for it. Files transferring and playback of pretty much all of the popular formats is smooth; copying & pasting on the device is very handy; timed recording will be very valuable to a lot of people, especially those who want to convert old home movies to a digital format; direct torrent download and playback is also pretty impressive. Most of these features are not provided in my WD TV Live Hub, which just so happens to be the Grand Entertainers direct competition given the similar prices on HDD capacities.
The downside to providing all of those features is that the Grand Entertainer is huge. There are some other mild annoyances, but nothing that takes away any value from it. Choosing the right media center also depends on the overall user experience and the setup of your entertainment area. If you’re simply looking for video playback on your HDTV connected to a network, the WD TV Live Hub or Apple TV can suffice as their UI is second to none in terms of slick presentation and easy of use. As a whole package though, the Grand Entertainer has no other equal at its price in the market right now.