Wireless media adapter: Great idea but needs some work

This device (like other wireless media adapters) allows you to send media such as video, audio and still image files from your networked host PC directly to your TV or hi-fi. However, what’s hot about the EZ-Stream is that it supports the faster 802.11g wireless networking standard, theoretically giving it a key advantage over slower but more commonplace 802.11b systems. (See “Easy as ABG”, below).

Hooking up the EZ-Stream to your network takes a bit of patience, particularly when using the remote control to key in network configuration data such as SSIDs, WEP security codes and IP addresses. In our case, this was compounded by the fact that the base unit repeatedly failed to connect to the server, even though the server itself could see it on the network — a problem that was only rectified when we used the server software to address the base unit directly.

Even when you’re past the setup stage, the EZ-Stream can take more than a minute to boot up and the onscreen menu system is unresponsive and awkward. Irritatingly, the next/previous track buttons on the remote control only work when you’re playing back files on a playlist.

Even when you select a track from the Album view, the EZ-Stream drops back to the menu once it’s played out, so you’ll need to create playlists for each album if you want to listen to them right the way through. Equally annoying is the fact that it bundles all your video files into the same list, leaving you dependent on scrolling or laboriously keying in a search to find a specific file.

Although the EZ-Stream supports a variety of media formats (JPG, BMP, MP3, MPEG-1 and MPEG-2) and MP3-based streaming Internet radio, it resolutely ignores common alternatives such as WMA, WMV, AVI (including Divx/MPEG-4), MOV, GIF, TIF, WAV or MP3Pro. Not only that, but the claimed maximum bandwidth allowed for MPEG-2 transfers is 4Mbps, so the EZ-Stream takes absolutely no advantage of the extra data transfer rate provided by its support for 802.11g wireless networks.

We tested the product on both an 802.11b and 802.11g network and found no perceptible difference in performance on either; a 5Mbps MPEG-2 file suffered from the same dropped frames and stuttering audio on both setups. In fact, we failed to get smooth playback even for 4Mbps files, regardless of the network type or signal strength. We found a more realistic bit rate for video files was in the region of 2-3Mbps, which is fine for audio transfers but not enough for anything except low-quality video.

Having said all this, asking for an S-Video output seems useless because it’s unlikely you’d see much of an increase in quality over the supplied composite video connection.

There are many ways the SMC EZ-Stream could be improved: better menu navigation, improved file support, data transfer rates that actually justify use of an 802.11g network, or even just a better-looking box.

Easy as ABG — wireless standards explained

Three flavours of wireless network are available: 802.11a, b and g, of which b is the most widely accepted standard. Although 802.11b is more than enough to share a broadband Internet connection between the PCs in your home, it can struggle when faced with heavy jobs like piping full-screen video to media receivers such as the EZ-Stream. This is despite claiming an 11Mbps maximum transfer rate as, in real terms, the best you’ll get is approximately 6Mbps.

Using a network based on the 802.11g standard should, theoretically, give you more headroom — but, again, the 54Mbps maximum transfer rate is misleading, and drops down to around 20Mbps in practice. This is due to measures taken by 802.11g hardware to ensure compatibility with the more common 802.11b clients. Just to make things worse, hooking up a single b device on a g network will slow everything down to the b transfer rates, making your g hardware virtually redundant.

Price: $499
Distributor: IT Wholesale
Phone: (02) 8748 6700
URL: www.itwholesale.com.au

Join the newsletter!

Or

Sign up to gain exclusive access to email subscriptions, event invitations, competitions, giveaways, and much more.

Membership is free, and your security and privacy remain protected. View our privacy policy before signing up.

Error: Please check your email address.
Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Laurence Grayson

PC World
Show Comments

Cool Tech

Toys for Boys

Family Friendly

Stocking Stuffer

SmartLens - Clip on Phone Camera Lens Set of 3

Learn more >

Christmas Gift Guide

Click for more ›

Brand Post

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Aysha Strobbe

Microsoft Office 365/HP Spectre x360

Microsoft Office continues to make a student’s life that little bit easier by offering reliable, easy to use, time-saving functionality, while continuing to develop new features that further enhance what is already a formidable collection of applications

Michael Hargreaves

Microsoft Office 365/Dell XPS 15 2-in-1

I’d recommend a Dell XPS 15 2-in-1 and the new Windows 10 to anyone who needs to get serious work done (before you kick back on your couch with your favourite Netflix show.)

Maryellen Rose George

Brother PT-P750W

It’s useful for office tasks as well as pragmatic labelling of equipment and storage – just don’t get too excited and label everything in sight!

Cathy Giles

Brother MFC-L8900CDW

The Brother MFC-L8900CDW is an absolute stand out. I struggle to fault it.

Luke Hill

MSI GT75 TITAN

I need power and lots of it. As a Front End Web developer anything less just won’t cut it which is why the MSI GT75 is an outstanding laptop for me. It’s a sleek and futuristic looking, high quality, beast that has a touch of sci-fi flare about it.

Emily Tyson

MSI GE63 Raider

If you’re looking to invest in your next work horse laptop for work or home use, you can’t go wrong with the MSI GE63.

Featured Content

Product Launch Showcase

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?