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David Murphy Jun 24, 2008

Doghouse Electronics RoverTv Wide Screen

At A Glance

BRIAN

It... uh... it has a lovely little screen, which we enjoyed staring at.

POOCHIE

Smaller sceen than the Archos 604, less storage, dismal features, no 12-hour-clock

Doghouse Electronics’s RoverTv sits up and begs comparison to the Archos 604, which we named the best digital media player of 2006. But we found this dog just a bit mangy.

It’s not that the device is buggy or doesn’t perform as advertised; it’s just that we think the Archos 604—which we found to be selling for around $315 online—is significantly better. The RoverTv Wide Screen sells for $350 and has a slightly smaller screen—4 inches, versus the 604’s 4.3-inch display; both deliver the same resolution: 480x272 pixels. Doghouse would be quick to inform you of the need to add Archos’s $100 DVR Station to the 604 to match the RoverTv’s video-recording capabilities, but the difference in storage capacity more than makes up for the price difference between the two units.

You see, the RoverTv relies solely on MMC or SD flash-memory cards for storage and comes with a 2GB SD card; the Archos 604 features a built-in 30GB hard drive. If you’re not interested in recording TV programs at all, the 604 actually costs $35 less than the RoverTv—but we’ll assume this is a feature you want.

The recording process is straightforward, but the device itself is doggone dumb. You plug one end of a proprietary A/V cable into the RoverTv and RCA plugs at the other end into the A/V outputs on your TV, set-top box, or DVD player. The RoverTv doesn’t have any of the features we’ve come to expect from a DVR—it can’t power-up an external tuner, change channels, distinguish between new episodes and repeats, or even record more than one event at a time—it simply starts and stops recording at whatever times you designate. Oddly enough, it has only a 24-hour clock, so if you want to record Desperate Housewives, you’ll need to convert 10 PM to 22:00 hours.

The RoverTv Wide Screen’s bright display delivered good performance with both photos and video, but its user interface is as rudimentary as can be. The photo directory, for example, can’t even display thumbnails. We love mutts, but this one’s just too damned dumb.

THE VERDICT

Doghouse Electronics RoverTv Wide Screen

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