So, what do I want out of my next laptop and what must it include?
D-Link Australia DSM-330
A competent wired and wireless media streamer
- Easy setup, range of outputs, good file support, great interface
- Struggles to play 720p content over wireless
D-Link's DSM-330 is a product that excels at streaming media over a wired network, but struggles a bit with the combination of wireless connection and high-definition video.
Price$ 399.95 (AUD)
D-Link's latest streaming media player, the DSM-330, differs from its predecessor the DSM-320 with the addition of DivX codec support. The device excels at displaying standard definition and high definition video content over a wired network, although it had troubles with 720p video through wireless.
The device itself is small and unobtrusive, designed to be hidden away in an A/V rack or on top of a DVD player. Its simple fascia has a power LED as well as a few network connectivity lights.
Unpacking and connecting the router-sized gadget is simple and only takes a few minutes. A decent number of ports are included on the unit's rear, with HDMI, SCART, S-Video and composite outputs covering video, as well as optical and analogue RCA audio connections. When we first set up the device it was unable to transmit video over HDMI, but after connecting a composite cable and completing the initial setup all was well.
Setting it up took a little while but was fairly simple. It is recommended you install the included software prior to connection to help with finding and accessing media files.
Once the software is installed, setting up the DSM-330 is a simple procedure. After setting up the screen and sound calibration, the streamer prompts for a wired or wireless connection. Wireless setup was easy; all common encryption types are supported. The device connects quickly to the server software, and then handles all the streaming of video, music and photos competently. From a cold start-up, expect a load time of around 45sec before you can navigate to your files.
The interface of the DSM-330 is a thing of beauty. It's intuitive to use, with a maximum of two sub-menus from the main menu. Photos, music and movies are easily accessed, as are options to add more plug-ins or play a series of games from the DivX website. In the past, the DSM-330 was able to download video from DivX's partner Web site, Stage6. Since that site's closure, the feature has been unavailable. DivX's Web site reports that it is in talks with other companies to revive the online download service, although there is no indication of when or if this will happen.
Photos are quickly streamed, with an average size file loading in around 2sec. Photos with a higher resolution than the box's 1280x720 standard were significantly compressed and jagged. The photo function excels at displaying movie stills and screenshots, but it isn't fantastic for viewing holiday snapshots straight off your digital camera.
When playing music over either wired or wireless networks we couldn't hear any skips or stuttering. The device's screensaver activates after five minutes by default, which means you might see the screen go blank before longer songs end; this feature can be disabled or extended if necessary.
Video playback was great in standard definition. Videos played smoothly over a wired network as well as wireless, and the DVD-quality content we played back looked great. No noticeable compression could be seen, and pictures maintained the vibrancy and clarity of the source material.
High-definition playback over a wired network was excellent; 720p content was seamlessly streamed, and load times were minimal. When switching to wireless, however, we found that 720p content struggled to play. This is often the case, as a wireless connection doesn't offer the bandwidth of a wired connection. For the best experience we recommend either ensuring you have a perfect wireless signal or simply stick with your cables.
It's a device that has plenty of potential, and in most areas it performs admirably. Music and photo content is streamed easily, and video is adequate as well. Picture quality is great, but the device may struggle with HD content unless it's set up on a wired network.
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