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Under The Covers

Figure 11 shows the main board of the LinkTheater.

Main Board
Click to enlarge image

Figure 11: Main Board

You can see in the photo that the heart of this product is a Philips PNX1502E/G processor which handles audio/video decoding, general processing, network support, etc. A Buffalo Mini PCI card provides the wireless support. Software-wise, a network port-scan turned up nothing of interest, but the LinkTheater is advertised to be powered by a Mediabolic software stack.

Conclusion

In general, I found the LinkTheater A&G Network Media Player to be lacking in a lot of areas. Its user interface was spartan, it had a hard time with my music files, its handling of my video files was sub-par, and there wasn't much special about its slide-show capabilities. I did appreciate that it worked with off-the-shelf UPnP servers, but it had trouble with my TwonkyVision server.

The list price of the LinkTheater is $250, so it's a bit cheaper than similar products I've reviewed lately, such as the Netgear EVA8000. But even with the lower price, I'd still have a hard time recommending it.

The LinkTheater can also be compared to the new AppleTV, which I've also had a chance to look at. And while the AppleTV has its own issues—such as limited video format support—for $50 more than the LinkTheater you get a player that includes a 40GB hard drive, dual-band draft 11n wireless, HDMI and component video, access to YouTube video and a user interface that makes the LinkTheater look like a poorly-written MS-DOS application. If Buffalo wants to compete in this market, they still have a lot of work to do.

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