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Video and Pictures

I was looking forward to trying out the video playing capabilities of the box because ultimately, I want to handle my DVD collection the same way I treat my CD collection. I want to rip all of my DVD's to a network hard drive and then have a way to select and play them through my entertainment center.

To test out the WMA100, I had put the video files from a couple of DVDs that I had created using iDVD into the My Video folder on the Windows machine that was running the Media Server software. The files showed up in the Video menu of the WMA100 and upon selection, played mostly without issue. I would occasionally see a small video glitch, but nothing worse than I see from my satellite TV connection.

Although the DVD menus were not present, I found it a nice way to view my video and close to what I wanted from networked video product. The WMA100 did pretty well with MPEG2 and I had good success with a little movie I created in MPEG4 format from iMovie. To really test it out, I grabbed an assortment of MPEG1 videos from the Internet, including the infamous exploding whale and the world's fastest starting barbecue.

But attempting to play the barbecue video just gave me a black screen, while the exploding whale video gave me only audio. To be fair, trying to play random videos downloaded from the Internet is often a hit-or-miss proposition due to the various formats used, and the whale video wasn't likely encoded in a supported format (but I couldn't resist trying it anyway). I found that serveral other less interesting MPEG1 videos played fine, so overall, I'd say that the video capability worked well.

Displaying pictures (still images) on the box is fairly straight forward. You are presented with a directory tree of your pictures (jpg, gif and png image formats) and can select a single picture to display or a whole directory tree. The pictures can be displayed sequentially or in a random order, with options for changing the amount of time pictures are displayed and how transitions occur between the pictures.

But the transition effects are fairly crude considering what's available in other products these days. All of the transitions, wipe, fade, slide, etc. occur between the picture and a black screen. For example, you see a picture, the screen goes black, and the new picture fades in. I'm used to fading between the two pictures, but perhaps this takes a bit more horsepower than the WMA100 has. Note also that you can select one of your music playlists to play while a slide show is running.

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