Setup and Admin
To set up the WMA, you can either use the Windows application that comes on the supplied CD, or the Setup screen in the WMA's video user interface. Having tried it both ways, my advice is skip the computer-based setup and go with the video-based version shown in Figure 1.
Figure 1: Video-based setup
It has everything you need on one handy screen for wired and wireless networking setup, and you don't have to futz with resetting your computer to an IP address compatible with the WMA's 192.168.1.230 static default IP.
If you choose this setup method, be sure you have a working Ethernet or wireless connection first, since the WMA isn't very helpful in diagnosing network connection problems.
If you opt for computer-based setup but try to run the setup program on anything other then a WindowsXP computer, you'll get a "This product is designed to be used with Windows XP only" pop-up and the program will quit. Although the Setup program could probably run on a non-XP machine, the Media Adapter Utility that you also must install is another story.
The Adapter Utility's function is to run something called the Media Folder manager, which is used to tell the WMA where your picture and music files are located. You install it on one WinXP machine only on your LAN, and then use its file browser to list the location of the picture and music folders that you want to make available to the WMA on each one of your LAN's computers.
TIP: The FAQ in the WMA's User Manual says that all files that you want to play must be on the "host computer", i.e. the one running the Media Folder manager. But I found that I could select folders on other non-XP networked machines, if I were persistent and ignored an error message generated when I tried to add the first networked folder.
Be patient if you use this method, since it may take a little while for your newly selected folder and files to show up in the WMA's file selections. You also may want to rename same-named folders on different machines so that you can tell them apart in the WMA's file browser.
I tend to dislike programs that need to install anything other than themselves in order to work, and the WMA unfortunately falls into that category. The Adapter Utility requires installing the Windows .NET Framework, which I reluctantly let it do in the interest of completing the review, but I wasn't happy about it. Maybe I'm overly paranoid of .NET given what little I know of it. But given Microsoft's abysmal performance to date in its "Trustworthy computing" efforts, I'm not very comfortable unleashing yet another one of Redmond's gems onto my LAN that does anything automatically .