LaCie's LaCinema Rugged plays 1080p video for $350

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If money is no issue, and you’re looking to play 1080p content—alt.binaries.hdtv.h264 says hi—on your big screen TV, you really ought to look into getting a proper PC, one with one of those fancy nVidia GPU that you can use to hardware accelerate said Blu-ray rips. That being said, it looks like LaCie just came out with a stand-alone device that should play most of the HD content you “find” online. Oh, it’s called the LaCinema Rugged HD, and LaCie wants $350 for it.

The device has a 500GB hard drive, which should be enough for plenty of feature-length movies. (I generally see 1080p movies anywhere from 7GB to 14GB in size.) It works with all the major codecs including H.264 and WMV9; it works with MKV! And as we all know, MKV has become the standard for scene HD releases. So, you put your file(s) on the drive, then plug the device into your TV using an HDMI cable. All of a sudden, you’re watching Che Part One or Watchmen in full HD.

(I doubt the LaCie people are thrilled with me referencing piracy so often in this post, but, really, how many of you are sitting there ripping Blu-ray discs? Is that even legal? It happens: people download stuff.)

My one concern is that, in my experience, on a lot of the better handled Blu-ray rips have pretty high video bitrates. (Here’s Children of Men, a 1080p Blu-ray rip.) So I don’t know how high that number can climb before the device starts to choke. Video at 720p shouldn’t present any problem.

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