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Photo Display

Buffalo documents support for pictures in JPG, BMP and PNG format. Interestingly, GIF was not listed, and indeed GIF files did not show up in my picture selection menus. Figure 9 shows a picture selection sub menu.

Photo selection

Figure 9: Photo selection

Finally something more than a flat list of filenames was shown; the thumbnail view was a nice touch. From this menu, I could select individual pictures for viewing or I could use the "Play" button to view them all in sequence. As far as picture transitions, such as fading, sliding, etc., none were supported. The only configuration item was the ability to change the time spent on a single picture.

I'll note that the LinkTheater had an issue with the TwonkyVision server when showing images. Navigation was extremely slow. It sometimes took 10 seconds for the remote command to be recognized when trying to view a slide show from the Twonkyvision server. And when the photos did show, they were tiny, as if the LinkTheater was only viewing the thumbnail version of the image. This was not an issue with my other UPnP servers. I'll also note that one time, the unit locked up while starting a slide-show. When the LinkTheater locked up, the screen saver never came on. So if your TV is susceptible to burn-in, be careful.

A quick check of the USB capabilities showed it worked pretty much as you'd expect. Plug in a USB device, and then you can browse the directory structure looking for content to play back.

Wireless

Since most people won't have an Ethernet drop in their entertainment center, the wireless capabilities of these devices is important. As mentioned earlier, Buffalo supports both 802.11g and the less common 802.11a. Since my household runs g, that is what I tested.

To try it out, I shut down the LinkTheater, unplugged the Ethernet, and powered it back up. When the unit booted up, it gave me three options for wireless configuration: AOSS, a one-touch configuration option that my access-point doesn't support; Viiv, which I don't have; or "Regular" setup, which I choose. Note that the vendor-neutral version of AOSS—Wi-Fi Protected Setup (WPS)— is not supported.

Regular or manual setup wasn't too difficult either. A site survey identified my access point, which I selected (Figure 10).

Wireless Site Survey

Figure 10: Wireless Site Survey

Next I entered my encryption key using cell-phone style key entry. Buffalo supports WPA-PSK (TKIP) and 128/64-bit WEP, but not WPA2, the most recent standard for wireless security. After I entered my encryption key, the LinkTheater joined my network and acquired an IP address via DHCP. At this point, everything functioned as before.

In my case, the access point I was using was also in my entertainment center, so it wasn't much of a stress-test. To check it out further, I moved the LinkTheater out to the far corner of my house, one floor and several walls away where my signal strength is known to be lower. In this location, everything still worked, but over time, I would expect to see an occasional drop-out with video. And since none of my HD clips worked even on the LAN, I couldn't really stress the LinkTheater. But if I wanted to stream HD content, I don't think I'd be choosing a wireless connection in any case.

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