Posts tagged media center

Xbox Media Center

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Kind of kicking myself for not having done this early, but I soft-modded my Xbox (using MechAssault), and installed the XBMC 2.0.0 package this weekend. With a 0.0 build, it’s a bit buggy, but for the mere cost of an Action Replay 8MB memory card and a $2.29 used copy of MechAssault from Gamespot (not to mention about 3 hours to get it working…. my bad) I have a super-powerful media center PC, which can play movies PROPERLY off my NAS box, Youtubs, whatever. The interface is slick and fast, and supports FF and RW at various speeds, unlike my DSM-520.

Only 1 downside, the thing is LOUD when on (and cannot be turned on or off with the remote).

With some smart shopping on eBay, you could get this High Definition platform up and working for under
$150 + $30+$3 = $183, a bargain compared to the competition and the power of this platform.

D-Link DSM-320 and DSM-520 review

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DSM-520.jpg

A friend of mine lent me the DSM-320 (it’s coming back soon, Patrick) and I evaluated it to decide to buy the ($229) DSM-520. Both boxes are UPnP AV streaming devices that let you stream audio, video, etc. from a PC.

DSM-320.jpg

Here’s the differences (all in favor of the DSM-520):

  • Supports WPA encryption on wireless
  • Supports high definition component and HDMI outputs
  • Has plug-in on front for USB drive

First impressions:

  • The box is quick and easy to setup, and found Windows Media Connect, NeroHome and D-Link Media Server without problems.
  • Firmware on both is clunky, and has even crashed a few times on the DSM-520 requiring a reboot
  • D-Link Media Server software is poorly implemented, alternatives including the live video transcoding capable NeroHome (my favourite)
  • Few video formats can be read “out-of-the-box”
  • The current firmware strangely can only be set to FF/Rewind OR jump to location. This is most annoying.

After a few months:

Overall, I still really like the DSM-520, and would recommend it to anyone looking for a high-definition streaming video player for a big-screen TV. It’s relatively inexpensive, and works quite well.

  • You can rip a DVD (I use DVDdecrypter) and play it back later. This is great, but several DVDs change audio language abruptly in mid-movie, requiring the rest of the movie be watched on a computer.
  • NeroHome is my preferred media server, supporting many more video formats for live transcoding than the D-Link Media Server
  • Only D-Link Media Server and NeroHome support fast-forward and rewind (Windows Media Connect 2.0 chokes)
  • I intend to buy an Infrant ReadyNAS NV, which will allow me to stream directly off that, without ever having to keep or turn on a computer in the house (supports UPnP AV).
  • I really wish they’d improve FF/Rev, including both jump, and some kind of “jump forward or backwards a few seconds”
  • I would love to see some kind of webbrowser built-in.
  • Pictures are still broken (either stretched to the wrong aspect ratio, or too small). This needs a bug fix desperately from D-Link
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