Software keeping up
Fire it up and 15 seconds later you're presented with the v2.0 interface first debuted on the Essential box. It's far simpler, cleaner and easier to navigate than the messy first iteration. Indexing is good and moving between screens, while not electric, is just about acceptable, though it could do with a speed boost.
New on this version are the Internet-centric widgets so conspicuous on previous models.
A.C. Ryan throws in front-ends for the social media generation. You'll need to be connected to the 'net of course, but once there, getting to grips with the apps is easy, though BBC's iPlayer is conspicuous by its absence. How about a proper browser, A.C. Ryan?
There's something nice about watching YouTube on a 46in LCD TV. However, on our sample, quickly pressing navigation keys within the YouTube interface, in quick succession, sometimes caused the unit to lock-up, requiring a reboot.
Back to the unit's forte, video playback is clean and sharp from high-definition files in varying file formats. Putting said files on to the internal drive - a 1TB version here - averages some 19.5MB/s via USB 2.0 and 45MB/s-plus via the USB 3.0 port hooked to an PC with a USB 3.0 port.
Got all your content stored on a remote NAS? Getting it to work with Windows 7 can be a long-winded experience but it's worth persevering. Get it working, hook it up to the Gigabit port and it streams just fine, though wireless speed is a poor 2.9MB/s while Ethernet-connected transfers top out at 10.2MB/s
A slicker package than before, A.C. Ryan has it pretty much right with the improved HD2.