After playing with this little toy for a while, I am impressed. While I have had the opportunity to use similar devices, I've yet to see one that has such a full line of features. The onboard Linux operating system makes sure that you have something more than just a pass-through box. Add to this the huge number of supported files and you have the makings of a very fine multimedia device in your hands. While testing I used AVI, MPG, WMV and VOB files that used WMV9, DivX and XviD encoding and this thing played them all without a hitch. At no time did I ever have issues with quality or audio synchronization. It simply played the way it was meant to be played.
I also liked the idea of being able to connect to your home network. While I did try the wired connection, I preferred the wireless since I do not have a network port in my main living area; where the big screen TV happens to be located. This network is based on a Linksys WRT54GS wireless router/switch using the IEEE802.11g standard. I have WEP encryption activated and still had no problems with getting everything to play. Even when playing files that are 1.4GB for a full length movie, I had no issues with quality or audio sync.
So, are there any downsides to this little gem that is being so highly vaunted?
I made mention earlier of the limited use of the front LCD display. Just my own opinion, but this probably could have been omitted from the final design. It serves little purpose since it has a very small display path and the information being displayed shows up on screen anyway. Some folks may discover a good use for it, but it is just to limited for me.
Price may also scare some folks off. At the time of this writing, this device has a MSRP of $349USD and can be found online for around the $300US. While this price point is generally higher than many similar products, I would remind you that other items in this category do not come with nearly the number of features as this one does, nor do they include an onboard operating system that decodes such a wide variety of media types. From this perspective, I don't think the pricing is terribly out of line at all.
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