In Use - DVD & Networked Mode Selection
The first thing I tried out on the unit was its ordinary DVD playing capability. In this respect, the unit performed pretty much like you'd expect of a high-end DVD player. But I found that it falls short as an HD DVD player because it lacks either a DVI-HDCP or HDMI connector to directly connect to similarly-equipped HD displays.
Because of rules imposed by the DVD Consortium and the MPAA (Motion Picture Association), this lack of direct-digital connection means that any commercial DVD played on the LinkTheater will appear in 480i (standard definition) format - even WMV HD and DivX HD DVDs - no matter what the resolution of the attached display. Update: Buffalo told me that if the attached display supports 480p, the LinkTheater will support that, too.
When you're playing anything else, however, it will be properly upconverted to the output resolution you have set. For example, if you play raw VOB files that have been decrypted from a DVD off a media server, the LinkTheater will upconvert them to the output format you've set. Similarly, if you have a data DVD/CD-ROM with unencrypted video files on it, it will also upconvert those files.
With the LInkTheater's credentials as a DVD player established, I turned to testing its networked media player capabilities. As shown in Figure 3, when UPnP-based servers are present on your network, the "login page" will display them along with the LinkTheater server and a selection for the DVD player. When I selected the Link Theater server (shown as "DellLaptop" in Figure 3), I was then presented with an attractive main menu with four selections: Video, Music, Photo and Internet (Figure 4).