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Next I moved on to the video capabilities of the mini. I kind of dreaded this part of the review, because I've never had much luck with displaying movies through these types of devices. There are just too many variations out there, with files in formats like MPEG1, MPEG2, MPEG4, WMA, AVI, DivX, XviD, QuickTime, and so on; it can make your head spin. Last year I reviewed three different network media players, and they all had limitations - unfortunately, I found that the mini was no different.

According to the documentation, the mini's only natively supported format is standard-definition MPEG2, i.e. 720x480 at a maximum 8 Mbps bit rate. Some WMV and AVI file formats can also be played, but once again, only if you are running the Buffalo server on a PC to perform the required on-the-fly transcoding. This requires a bit of horsepower, so Buffalo recommends at least a 1.8 GHz processor in the PC.

I had several standard-definition MPEG2 files available on my Linkstation and the mini played them fine. When I attempted to play a high-definition MPEG2 file, however, the mini appeared to accept it, but I got nothing more than a black screen. I also had several MPEG1 files that I tried out and they were also playable, even though Buffalo's documentation doesn't mention this. But true to the documentation, when I tried files in the AVI, QuickTime, MPEG4 or DivX formats from the Linkstation server, none of the movies would play.

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