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Setting Up

NOTE!NOTE: Several days into my review of this unit, I went deep into the Setup menu and selected the Revert to Factory Settings option. Once I did this, the odd volume behavior and the default output behavior described below went away and the WMA100 powered on with a proper volume setting and automatically displayed on my TV. Since I'm not sure whether my review unit had bad settings to start with or something had gotten corrupted along the way, I've included the problem descriptions in the review.

When I first unpacked the device, I was pleasantly surprised at its small size and low weight. For all the capabilities that it provides, I was expecting a larger, heavier box that would be closer in size to a PC rather than a router. But design-wise, the WMA100 is an un-inspiring little gray box that would look more at home in a server closet than in the home entertainment center.

However, functionality should outweigh aesthetics, so I proceeded to hook it up and try it out. Maybe after using an array of Apple equipment and Roku Soundbridge networked music player [reviewed here], my standards have been raised a bit. But I soon found that the WMA100's feature set was also a bit of a let-down.

As usual, I set aside all software, and documentation and went to work connecting it to my home entertainment system. Since I have an Ethernet drop in my entertainment center, I simply plugged in a network cable, connected audio and video cables, applied power and turned on my TV - and was presented with a silent black screen. Maybe I should at least concede to look at the "Getting started" documentation.

A quick flip through uncovered a blurb on "If there is no screen image". According to the documentation, this shouldn't happen if you are using S-video (which I was), but the presented solution was to press the Output button on the remote until an image appears. Pressing this button brought up a basic top-level menu. Now to really try it out.

My original understanding regarding the way the box worked was that it did a network mount of Windows file-shares to access music, pictures and video. So I had pretty much ignored the "Supported Operating Systems" spec. since all of the various Apple, Linux and network appliance boxes on my network have the ability to perform Windows file-sharing.

But flipping through the WMA100's menus showed no configuration options for mounting Windows file-shares, and the sections for Video, Music and Pictures were empty of content. Whoops, maybe this wouldn't be as easy as I thought - but then that was my fault for ignoring the basic requirements. According to the box, only Windows XP and 2000 are supported and ViewSonic also sells a wireless media server than can be used with the WMA100.

I noticed that a sticker had been placed on the WMA100's box to cover up a reference to Windows 98 support. So, disregarding the sticker, I installed the included software on the only Windows box on my network - an aging Windows 98 system. The software installed fine, but the WMA100 still showed no content. Evidently I'd actually have to believe the documentation regarding operating system support! Until I could borrow a Windows XP system, I decided to try out the only content that showed up in the menus, Internet Radio Stations.

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