Today on Blogcritics
Home » Culture and Society » Science and Technology » Product Review: Sansa TakeTV PC To TV Video Player (8 GB)

Product Review: Sansa TakeTV PC To TV Video Player (8 GB)

Please Share...Tweet about this on Twitter0Share on Facebook0Share on Google+0Share on LinkedIn0Pin on Pinterest0Share on TumblrShare on StumbleUpon0Share on Reddit0Email this to someone

There are a few products on the market that allow you to watch video from your computer on your television. However, there is probably not one easier for the average person to use than the TakeTV, the newest addition to Sandisk's Sansa line of media players. While it's not without its limitations and quirks, the Sansa TakeTV bridges the gap between computers and the living room quite smoothly.

The Sansa TakeTV device looks sort of like a fancy USB flash drive…and that's essentially what it is. Available in 4GB and 8 GB capacities, you plug the device into your computer's USB port and drag the videos to it like you would any other USB flash drive. Because of this, you can also use the TakeTV to transport files between computers.

Included with the TakeTV is a console which hooks up to your television. Unfortunately for HD fans, the console only works with standard composite video or S-Video inputs. Once you hook the TakeTV to the console, you're greeted with a welcome screen followed by a list of your compatible files and folders. A remote for the console is also included.

Navigating the TakeTV is very easy. All you have to do to play your video file is highlight it and select it. Picture quality depends entirely on the quality of the file. There are several options for viewing the file that are available by pressing the "mode" button on the remote. "Fill" stretches the video to fit the screen. "Pan & Scan" zooms widescreen video to make the black bars disappear. "Letterbox" displays widescreen video in letterbox format and full-screen video in its standard format. "Original" plays the video its original resolution, which means that it may not fill the screen if it's in a resolution lower than standard-def TV. You can pause, rewind, fast-forward, and go frame-by-frame through the video with the remote as well as control subtitles and see file info.

Even though the TakeTV is easy-to-use, there are some limitations and quirks that keep it from being an absolute must-buy. The biggest limitation is in what files the TakeTV can play. It can only play MPEG-4 files encoded in Divx or Xvid as well as files downloaded from Sandisk's new video site Fanfare. Although many videos are encoded in these formats, it's unfortunate that the TakeTV does not even support MPEG-1 or MPEG-2 files. Since the TakeTV only has standard-def connections, it doesn't support any files above DVD resolution. Although a 1280 x 720 Xvid file did show up on the TakeTV menu when I loaded it, attempts to play it gave me a "cannot play HD content" message.

Apart from file support, there are a couple of things that could be improved upon on the TakeTV. Although it's cool how the TakeTV can fit inside the remote for storage, the remote itself is a bit awkward to use. The "play" button is situated at the top of the remote and is raised from the rest of the buttons. The remote can work from a fairly large distance but it can be a little intermittent. There are times when it works really easily and there are times when you'll need to hit buttons a couple of times. In addition, the console is powered by an included AC adapter. For whatever reason, the connection to the power supply on the console is grouped right along with the A/V connections. This is also pretty awkward to deal with.

The Sansa TakeTV is a solid device that has a ton of potential. With its limitations, it's easy to forget that it requires no software setup (apart from the optional Fanfare service), no tricky configurations and no CD/DVD burning in order to watch videos from your computer on your TV. Despite some elements of it being awkward, everything you need for the TakeTV is compact enough fit in a small bag which makes it very portable. Standard connections mean that you won't have a problem hooking it up to most televisions. While the file support is a little anemic, there are quite a few free and pay software programs out there that will convert videos into Divx or Xvid format.

With a few tweaks such as HD connectors, greater file support, and maybe a rechargeable battery to replace the AC adaptor, the TakeTV could become a product that could really make an impact. As it stands now, though, it's a nice device that really simplifies a needlessly complex task.

Powered by

About Sterfish

  • Brian aka Guppusmaximus

    To me, this is the type of product for people who really don’t understand computer technology & don’t want to spend the time & money investing in a system that will benefit them not only in the short run but the long run as well.

    I can admit that the portability is great but that’s where it ends.

  • http://www.bluepixel.net Alex

    @Brian

    “To me, this is the type of product for people who really don’t understand computer technology & don’t want to spend the time & money investing in a system that will benefit them not only in the short run but the long run as well.”

    But most of those people will NEVER take the time to understand (in the short run OR the long run) so they will never benefit from a more complex system, which is the whole point of a product like this.

  • Brian aka Guppusmaximus

    But most of those people will NEVER take the time to understand…

    I guess that would only be accurate if people didn’t educate those consumers about other possibilities.

    *Plus* a couple oversights by myself when reading this article:

    With its limitations, it’s easy to forget that it requires no software setup..

    Divx or xvid(open source)requires a software converter unless you take part in illegal file sharing whereas that is the favorite format used to compress DVD Screeners,etc…

    no CD/DVD burning in order to watch videos from your computer on your TV.

    If you have to compress the video yourself to Divx or xviD then your better off ripping a copy to DVD because the compression process can be just as confusing and time consuming.. AND it requires the purchase & understanding the usage of said software.

    Again, I do see how this could be handy for portable reasons but to replace Home Networking with this limited product would be a mistake…

  • http://sterfish.blogspot.com Sterfish

    Thanks for the comments on my review. Let me address a couple of things mentioned in the comments:

    In regards to my comment about software setup, I am referring entirely to watching it on the device. Even if you don’t have Divx or Xvid on your computer, you could still watch those encoded files by playing them on the device. Also, although Divx/xvid is the preferred format of file sharing, there are legal files out there. One fact I failed to mention in my review is that the device supports the DRM version of Divx as well as the standard version.

    As for the CD/DVD burning comment, I have to concede that it really needed clarification. Converting a file to Divx or Xvid can really be as time-consuming as making any video file into a DVD. However, if you already have a converted file, using a TakeTV can be a lot quicker than waiting for your DVD burning program to finish up.

    As for converters, although you have to pay for Divx Pro, there are multiple free, legal converters out there that can convert into Xvid. I use one called SUPER, for example.

    It will be really interesting to see what direction Sandisk will go with the future versions of TakeTV. I wonder if they’ll embrace the portability option that would be attractive to more sophisticated users or keep going after consumers who want the computer out of the equation as much as possible. I’d really like to see them expand the brand and do both.