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Buffalo Link Theater wireless media player

Format-tastic

Review Buffalo probably isn't the first name that springs to mind when you think of DVD players, but the Link Theater is more than just a DVD player. Following in the footsteps of KiSS, Buffalo has created a DVD player that can play multiple video formats on multiple storage media. Gone are the days when consumers just needed MPEG 2 DVD playback in their living room, now MPEG 4 is as much a pre-requisite as retail DVDs.

Buffalo Link Theater

Considering that Buffalo isn't a consumer electronics company, it has done its best to make the Link Theater look good. The mirrored fascia complements the matt silver finish of the chassis, but unfortunately the green LED display is far less impressive and looks somewhat dated compared to most modern DVD players. The round silver buttons are also very generic in appearance and look purely functional rather than stylish. As far as buttons go you have Power, Eject, Stop, Skip Back, Skip Forward and Play/Pause. There's also an AOSS button, which will enable Buffalo's automatic security negotiation when the Link Theater is used in conjunction with a Buffalo wireless router or access point.

The Link Theater looks like a standard DVD player, but it's actually so much more. But for simplicity's sake, let's start with just that, DVD playback. The quality of the DVD playback from the Link Theater is surprisingly good - this is helped by the fact that it supports progressive scan output from the component video ports. I watched a number of discs and was impressed overall, while the Link Theater also managed to play some troublesome discs that my regular Pioneer player has difficulty with.

DVD playback wasn't perfect, though. For a start, the Link Theater isn't multi-region out of the box. There is a code that you can type in on the remote to enable multi-region, but you'll have to trawl through the Internet looking for it since it's not in the manual. Of course, I could mention it - press 'slow' then '2960' - but maybe I shouldn't. If you do enter the region unlock code - whatever it may be - you'll be able to set the Link Theater to any region. If you select Region 0, you should be able to play any disc - after selecting Region 0, I was able to play Region 1, 2 and 4 discs without any problems.

One thing that annoyed me is that if you've got the player set to output widescreen DVD and you insert a 4:3 disc, instead of zooming the picture, it will play it in 4:3 with bars down the side. OK, I accept that it's not really doing anything wrong, but that's not how I like to view 4:3 content on a widescreen TV.

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