What Hi Fi Sound and Vision Wed, 4 Feb 2009, 4:00pm

Linksys DMA2200

Tested at £150
40100
2

The DMA2200 does nothing particularly well, and few will find its features to be adequate

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For

  • Affordable
  • reasonable disc playback
  • Wireless-N
  • can access Freeview via your PC

Against

  • Limited features and format support
  • lacks decent online services
  • poor performance with streamed media
  • requires Media Center to be on and running

Let's get this out of the way; if you don't use Windows Media Center, and you have no interest in switching to it, you may as well stop reading now.

If you are a Media Center user, by all means read on, but be warned; the DMA2200 is still likely to fall short of your expectations.

The Linksys piggy-backs Media Center directly, which means you not only need your computer to be on, but Media Center must be running for you to access your content, even if it's stored on a NAS device.

Also, where there are codecs and add-ons to improve the functionality of Media Center, the Linksys has none, and this means it's very limited.

Only MPEG1, MPEG2, WMV9 and H.264 video files play, with no support for DIVX, XVID, AVI or MKV, and if you're someone who has a DVD library on your version of Media Center, it's important to note that this won't appear on the ‘2200. Music format support is similarly limited to PCM, MP3, WMA and WMA Pro.

Frequent flakey freezes
The menu system is identical to Media Center. However, it doesn't operate with the same smooth fluidity, and icons are less-sharp. The system also seems rather flakey, with fairly frequent freezes.

So, what's it good for? Well, the Wireless-N technology in the DMA2200 means any compatible files you do have on your PC can be accessed in your second room wirelessly.

Also, if your PC has a Freeview tuner, it can pass live and recorded programs on, too. In fact, you can pause a live broadcast on the PC and resume it on the ‘2200.

The Linksys also has a built-in disc drive, so you can enjoy DVDs and CDs the old-fashioned way. There's no hard disk though, so it won't rip them.

Lacking in excitement and insight
The unit is actually a reasonable disc player, and although it's beaten by decent sub-£100 standalone units, it will upscale to 1080p and it does have a pretty detailed, natural and clean picture, while sound is fairly balanced and clear.

The quality of streamed file playback is less impressive, with video appearing rather soft, and music lacking genuine excitement and insight.

Throw in a lack of decent online services, and you've got a product that falls very short in the digital media player department, and is beaten as a disc-spinner by standalone models, and that leaves it seriously struggling for stars

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