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Wrapping Up

I can't help thinking that other consumers will be fighting with problems caused by personal firewalls much like I did, which doesn't bode well for NETGEAR customer support and returns. The manual did have a section on configuring a McAfee firewall, but the instructions didn't match the version installed on my laptop.

But once I got my firewall issue resolved, I was generally pleased with the box. I'd even say that I prefer the MP115 over the Viewsonic WMA100 mainly due to the MP115's more mature software. I also feel that the MP115's user interface performs better and it was able to play more of my media without throwing up cryptic errors - especially my iTunes ripped MP3s.

That said, I wasn't all that impressed with the MP115's user interface beyond its responsiveness. It reminded me of Windows 3.1, being a bit dull and often un-intuitive. But realistically, based on the way I'd use the box, I wouldn't use its browsing features that often. I found myself just selecting an album or movie and letting it go.

Eventually I'd like to re-encode my DVD library to a hard drive and play them through a device such as this. So while the video issues were an annoyance - but not unexpected given the wide variety of movie formats in use today - they were a useful tutorial in what will be involved in realizing my desire. I suspect that, with time, I could come up with the proper encoding magic that would satisfy both my needs and the box's requirements. But if you're planning on using an existing library of digital movies, you may want to do some research to make sure that the MP115 can play them. Note, however, that movie formats supported by the MP115 played without problems.

Note also that if you decide to bring an MP115 into your home, you may have a difficult time finding one. A quick check of on-line shopping sites brought up surprisingly few hits. When I asked NETGEAR about this, they would only say that the product is in "limited distribution in the US, Europe and Asia/Pacific and that it is in "field trials in various channels, including service providers".

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