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Going Wireless, Continued

When testing out the media categories using a wireless connection, I really couldn't tell any difference in behavior compared to the wired-connection, until I got to video. The initial tests were run using a quiet, 802.11g-only dedicated network with the WMA100 on the main level of my house and the access point in the basement, one level below.

The MPEG4 and MPEG1 videos that worked before still worked fine, but when I tried my MPEG2 DVD files, I initially had problems. These videos were much higher quality than the others and were quite a bit larger and required a higher streaming rate. Attempting to play these files resulted in severe jumping and stuttering so much that they were unwatchable.

Even though the distance between WMA100 and AP didn't seem that far, I tried the same test again with the WMA100 in the same room as the access point and got much better results. This time, the video played fine with perhaps a few more jitters than a wired network, but it was certainly watchable.

To see how the unit worked with very low signal strength, I took it up to the second floor of my house which is about as far away from my basement access point as I could get. At this location, the WMA100 worked, but even MP3s were choppy and everything seemed a bit sluggish. As noted above, the signal strength "meter" on the main menu still read one bar away from full-strength even though it was obviously having trouble. My take-away from this experience is that if you're expecting to stream DVD-quality videos, your safest bet for a trouble-free viewing experience is an Ethernet connection - unless your wireless distance is very short.

One final annoyance I found was related to connecting to the Windows system where my media was located. Every time I powered the WMA100 up and went into a menu such as Music, my selection resulted in an odd message of "To remove the selected server, press OK on the remote control" (Figure 6). Given no other choice, I would select "OK", the listing of my Windows box would go away and then several seconds later it would re-appear. Once it came back, everything worked normally.

Another curious screen
Figure 6: Another curious screen

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