Linksys are set to roll out a brand new media centre extender that will allow users to stream content from a PC to anywhere in the home. Set to be popular with professional installers the device is already being tested by Digital Homeware - a developer of Windows based automation systems in Australia.
The DMA2200 comes 18 months after Cisco the owners of Linksys purchased KISS a European Company that had spent several years developing a home media server that ran on a Windows based platform.
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From the KISS acquisition Linksys were able to get access to middleware software which over the past 18 months they have developed further in association with Cisco programmers. This software can now be found in the new DMA2200.
Easy to integrate the device is a classic example of what is important with consumers today. Out of the box we were able to configure the DMA 2200 into a home network within minutes. However one word of warning if you have a fair amount of music or video content make sure you have plenty of memory and a fast PC with lots of grunt to stream the content to the Linksys device.
In the first instance one has to load Linksys software that talks to the extender onto the host PC or home server. Once this has been done you enter an eight digit code which is generated when the extender is switched on and plugged into a TV or monitor screen.
This creates a unique handshake between the device and the host PC. Once this is done one can start setting up the content however due to either a lack of memory (4GB is suggested as an optimum) or a slow processor in a PC the transfer of information can appear like stutter vision, however this is not the fault of Linksys or the extender but more the PC that has to be on for the extender to work.
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Another issue to take into account is that this device only works with Windows Vista or Ultimate Home Premium which includes as free the Media Centre software.
A big benefit of this device is that it will see multiple PC's or notebooks if the devices are either on a home network or a home wireless network. This allows a user to identify which content from which PC one wants streamed to the extender.
Browsing a media library is simple, with everything presented in an easy to access and logical format. Even tuning to an FM station is easy with one being able to step back or forward to fine tune the channel.
Another big advantage is that Linksys have done an excellent job of allowing almost all streaming formats determined by the host media centre to be streamed to the extender. One can also access online video and music including free content from MTV however several sites are not available in Australia.
Another benefit is that if the PC running Media Center has a TV tuner installed, you can also watch, pause and record live TV. Also built into the device is a DVD that up scales to Full HD (A cheaper version without a DVD player is also available) along with the ability to run the latest 802.11n wireless standard, which boosts speeds and makes it possible to stream high-definition video over a wireless network
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Essential is an 802.11n router. For testing we used the new WRT350N router which was fast and easy to install. We also found that one can easily configure a VPN client using this router when in the past we have had a lot of problems configuring a VPN.
The bottom line is that this is the best media centre extender we have seen. It is cost effective easy to install and rich in simple features. The software used to manage the content is fluid and easy to use. The only negative is that when a user needs to manage the content being streamed they have to go to settings and set up the parameters for the content to be streamed. This is sometimes a slow process with master menus and sub menus needing to be identified.
Recommended Retail Price:
DMA 2100: $359.95
DMA 2200: $449.95