Since I have a network drop in my entertainment center, hooking it up was straightforward - just a matter of plugging in the network and AV cables and applying power. I initially had a black screen on my TV, but a button on the remote allowed me to cycle output to the S-Video port I was using. During the startup of the device, a status screen showed progress, including the acquisition of an IP address through DHCP. It seemed to go on-line ok except that it informed me it couldn't find a media server.
The basic idea is that you run a UPnP-based server on your PC, that on request, feeds your music, video and pictures to the MP115. The included media server software installed without incident on my recently-acquired Windows XP laptop. But when the server started up, I got a warning from my PC's personal firewall telling me that the program was trying to open up an Internet connection. So I selected the Always allow button and let it continue.
During initialization, the server asked about importing my multimedia files. I went with all of the default settings and the program began to scan my hard drive, cataloging all of my music, video and pictures. But I found that accepting the defaults yielded a library with every little sound effect, icon and miscellaneous video clip from the deep reaches of my file system!
I didn't really want to have a play-list of Windows sound effects, and a slide show of icon themes, but that's what I had. I didn't see any easy way to do a bulk clean-up of the mess, so initially just left it alone and went back to my TV to explore the capabilities of the MP115.
I reset the device and this time when it came up, it recognized my newly-installed media server. The main menu showed four options, My Music, My Videos, My Pictures and Premium Service (Figure 3), and I decided to start with music.
Figure 2: MP115 Main menu
The first level menu under Music had automatic grouping by genre, album, artist, etc. This was a nice feature, because with a large collection, it's important to have groupings that allow quick navigation to a desired track.
I navigated into a list of about a dozen songs but noticed that only nine were displayed. I was momentarily confused because there was nothing indicating that there were other songs in the list that were not displayed. But when I scrolled to the bottom of the list, another page of song titles appeared.
With a very long list, it would be easy to get lost, so it would have been nice to have an indication of additional pages of selections and where in the list I was currently browsing. It would also be nice to use more of the screen real-estate for user information or more titles, perhaps by shrinking the NETGEAR logo and slogan.
Figure 3: Song selection