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Features - Video

The last media feature to check was the 510's ability to play streamed high definition video at up to 1080i resolution. This is a tough feature to handle since there are so many different formats in use. When I had tested the 520, I was pleased with its playback capability. It didn't handle all of my files, but it did well.

As I poked around a bit in the 510's documentation to see what formats were supported, I noticed a difference between the 510 and the 520. Where the 520 relied on hardware to decode all of its supported formats, the 510 appeared to rely on the Nero server to transcode some formats. This means that your PC is responsible for a lot of the heavy lifting when it comes to decoding video files. Also to be noted is that quality can suffer when changing from one video format to another. D-Link recommends using a PC with a 1 GHz processor and 512 MB of RAM.

D-Link specs support for MPEG 1 2 and 4, WMV9, XviD, AVI, and DVR-MS, but lists a number of restrictions such as "Advanced Simple Profile only without quarter pixel or global motion compensation" for MPEG-4, and "MPEG-4 Layer Only" for AVI.Restrictions like that are one reason these types of devices have had a hard time getting traction with the population at large. Just try telling a coworker that the funny video he sent won't play because he didn't use an "Advanced Simple Profile" when he created it.

Anyway, my tests showed that the 510, along with the transcoding server, played a large number of the files I had in my collection. It used a bit of CPU in the process, but at least the files played! I successfully played MPEG 1, 2, 4, DivX, and Xvid movies. At least one file had an incorrect aspect ratio. (Figure 9).

Aspect-ratio problem

Figure 9: Aspect-ratio problem

Some files I thought should play started, but then gave up with a pop-up error (Figure 10). As far as a comparison to the 520, both played a similar number of file variations, but the 520 did it all in hardware rather then relying on software conversion.

Unsupported Format Error

Figure 10: Unsupported Format Error

Another difficult feature to support for networked media players is fast forward and reverse. The 510 allows you to scan forward and backward in movies, but it's pretty jumpy. Don't expect it to be as smooth as scanning through a DVD.

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