Pros divx, mp4, nice GUI, nice design, wireless G, TVersity Media Server
Cons Limited online content, WMV, Wireless performance is not as expected, DRM
Summary This thing requires running a media server software on one's PC. The choice of this software is crucial since with most of them, including the software it ships with, it is a very limited device. However there is a media server that makes this box very versatile and much more useful, it can be found at http://www.tversity.com
The DLink Media Server software ships with this device and when used you end up not being able to play WMV, or ipod AAC files. Also high bitrate MP3 files won't play. The online content that comes with it is very limited and pretty much useless.
The TVersity Media Server adds support for WMV playback as well as ipod AAC, high bitrate mp3 and many many more formats. It also makes it possible to play virtually any online content and it comes with the ability to play all the movie trailers from ifilm on your TV as well as Radio and TV stations from around the world. Very cool stuff!
Pros Easy Setup - Almost Plug n Play
Cons Not a lot - Could have sent the user manual with the product instead of going online to download it.
Summary Bottomline - Installed and enjoyed music and pictures within 16 minutes. Works Great! Read detailed review below.
Background - I bought this online even after reading the poor reviews from other users, I statistically weeded out the complaints that were due to wireless problems, as my ultimate application is planned to be wired.
I received the media player (on 3/11/05) and decided to "dry test" it wireless first. Some important steps that led to success of my installation. Note them down for guidance (if you care for my opinion) for your own installation
1 - Be a stickler to follow the installation manual - I opened the box, counted the different components and followed the steps listed in the installation manual.
2 - Loaded the software - this software makes your pc a "media server". Once loaded one has to select the file folder(s) where the different types of media are located and select a name of the server (important -will know in a minute). This completes the "media server" part of the install process. BUT ensure that you start media server and press the close button(this minimizes the software application and makes the media server run in the background). This is needed for DSM-320 to connect and work)
3 - I now connected the power cord and RCA Video out to my radio shack source selector and directly connected my RCA audio to my a/v receiver. Connected the antenna and put batteries in the remote and powered up.
5 - Completed the onscreen menu setup and looked for media server - Guess what it didnt work - Now this is where most people are failing in my opinion.
6 - Well found that my wireless hub is setup to only allow access to idenified mac address devices (my oversight here)So went in my Netgear hub settings and found wirelss devices and gave acces to DSM-320 mac address. (This is why I say it is "Almost Play n Play)
7 - Tried again on the media player and it worked. All this took me about 16 minutes.
8 - Then I added my notebook as media server - my notebook connects to internet wireless through my netgear hub. Create a new name for the media server in the software.
9 - Went into setup on DSM-320 and discovered two media servers - selected the notebook as the media server and Guess what - It worked.
10 - Enjoyed music and went back and forth a couple of times between the media servers (pc and laptop) without any problems.
11 - Rebooted my dsm-320 and now have the v1.05 firmware version.
NOTE - my wireless is a 803.11a (11mbps may not be enough for video streaming) so havent tried video yet - but will today (3/12/05).
Pros Plays protected WMA files, good GUI
Cons Video compatability bad, especially with wireless
Summary I read dozens of reviews before purchasing this player so I expected a few gliches and realized that the player wouldn't support some of my files. As a bit of a tech nerd, I thought I could work around many of these issues; and I could. Here are some problems that I (and others) have come across and how I addressed them: First, the player does not support divx and WMV. This is extremely annoying, but I found two sollutions to play divx files. If the file is small, you can convert it to a mpg at about 2x using the free TMPG video encoder. I have a lot of half-hour length TV shows encoded in Divx and was able to convert them in approximately 8 - 10 minutes each. The second option is to use Nero's Media Home server which encodes files on the fly as you play them over your Dlink. This is great for larger files or if you don't want to take the time to re-encode a large library of files. The only downside with this is that it takes considerable CPU resources so if you don't have a ton of memory and want to use your computer at the same time you could be frustrated. Neither of the afore-mentioned fixes will work with WMV files. Dlink will likely resolve this with a future firmware release, but if download video files from places like MLB.tv you'll still have to hook your computer up to your TV to view them. The ability to stream baseball games to my TV without using a computer was one of the main reasons I got the player so I am especially frustrated with this non-feature. The second issue I have come across is the hit and miss playing of some supported movie files (AVI and MPG). I frequently get the "File not supported" error even while the video still plays in the background. I haven't been able to work around this yet, but know it has nothing to do with the files themselves as I am often able to play files seamlessly one day and the next I get the error every five minutes. It is probably that this has something to do with the wireless network. Currently my Dlink is the only device on my network and the wireless router is only 8 feet away streaming at 54 mbps. I refuse to even try to connect it wirelessly as I see this as defeatist. The whole idea with a device like this is that you want to play files on your computer which is likely in your office or den on your home entertainment center in your living room. Devices like this should be used wirelessly. My only problem with audio is that the device doesn't play my lossless WMA files. This wasn't a big deal for me since less than 10% of my files are encoded at this extremely high bitrate and I was able to easilly re-encode them at a still high, but playable rate.
Pros Easy set-up. Great for streaming all of your music and pictures to your TV. Nice D-Link technical support.
Cons Most videos won't stream even if in the recommended format and size. 2 G max for streaming of videos. Server software often freezes when unable to play a video file. Annoying delay to play files.
Summary If all you want to do is stream your music and pictures and don't care about videos then I highly recommend. It is very cool! However, if you want everything D-Link is advertising on the box I guarantee you will be very frustrated and disappointed. You may have to convert all of your videos to the recommended format and even then they still may not play!! In addition, the DSM 320 is not compatible with Windows XP Media Center. There are no TV Guide feature and there is no ability to use it as a PVR which would definitely improve its compeditiveness with rival media extender, the Linksys WMCE54AG.
Pros I don't know, I haven't been able to use it.
Cons Doesn't work with WPA-PSK
Summary I just purchased this, having a DLink router, I thought it might not have too many problems connecting. But the damn thing doesn't work with WPA security enabled. So now I'm deciding between returning this and lowering my security level to get it to work. Why can't DLink get a firmware that actually matches the features of their own routers?