Solwise DMP-1120w UPnP/DLNA network media player
Apple TV wannabe?
Review From the Apple TV to D-Link's Media Lounge and Netgear's Wireless Digital Media Player there is currently no shortage of ways of getting PC-held content onto a TV screen and home audio system without wires. As with most things in life, while some of these products are of a truly fine vintage others prove to be merely vin ordinaire.
Solwise's DMP-1120w: links PC to TV, wirelessly
From those makers of home networking and sundry VoIP kit, Solwise, comes the DMP-1120w wireless UPnP/DLNA digital media player - a name that may have those not fluent in the acronyms of modern technology scratching their heads in puzzlement - is, alas, drawn from the latter keg.
The basic specification is nothing to get too wild about. There's no HD output and since the DMP-1120w has no hard drive, your PC, Mac or NAS box will have to be switched on continuously in order to get the most out of it. The box is unable to grab content off your machine on its own, which means that in order for it to work all your media will have to be logged in to Windows Media Player 11 or you'll need to install a Digital Living Network Alliance (DLNA) complaint media server app such as TVersity or Media Tomb.
The DLNA media server option at least means you can use the DMP-1120w with a Mac or a Linux box as well as Windows XP and Vista. In addition to WMP 11 on a PC, we tried it out with Elgato's EyeConnect software on a MacBook Pro.
Niggling problems abounded from the off. Set-up should be straightforward: plug the box into the TV and follow the on-screen instructions and... well, for some reason it just didn't want to talk to our wireless router. It turns out the router was working on channel 13 and the Solwise box wouldn't acknowledge, or select, a channel above 11. Changing the router's broadcast channel really shouldn't be necessary to set up a media player like this, but in this case it was. At no point in our test did the Ethernet or wireless activity lights on the box so much as flicker to let us know a signal was being received, which didn't make matters any easier.
The UI's pretty basic
Having got a network signal we then had no sign of our laptop PC as a "Media Source". So we tried messing about with all the usual settings - firewall, WMP 11's media sharing options and the like - but still no joy. After some serious head-scratching we tried as an act of final desperation plugging an Ethernet cable into our PC from the router and suddenly we had media. Universal Plug and Play, our left foot!
360 for the win
The XBMC is absolutely wonderful if you only want to play standard-def media. But now I've gone HD I use my 360, Windows Media Centre and Transcode360 for any formats the 360 won't do natively. It's surprisingly good.
I would have expected review highlighting so many failings to garner a much lower score. Are half the marks just for the unit turning up and spelling its name correctly?
How about this approach...
You run a little program on your PC/Mac/Linux.
You drop one or more media file from your PC onto that program, they are sent across the Wifi to a box, and appear on the TV screen. i.e. the little program simply transmits the files to the predefined device and it plays them to screen, no menus, no fuss no complexity, just drop and play.
It could even be a USB plug in thumb 'drive' (well it could look like a thumb drive to the PC anyway), you drop on the media files and it plays them. Cheaply and simply as possible.
I'll tell you what, how about if the TV box in question is a Wii since that already has WiFi and video/audio and a remote.
Nintendo could make a USB plug in thingy that looks like a thumb drive to the Mac/PC/Linux box, that could send the files via WiFi to the Wii for playback.
I've been playing around trying to find a decent media extender for my NAS array and all the dedicated boxes I've tried are complete pants, especially for the price.
I'd heard about the xbmc and was about to delve into the mod-chip world for xbox when I discovered someone was already doing it on ebay pre-modded with xbmc installed for less then £60.
Using it has been fantastic, it plays everything I need and I can play games on it too. If you stick a larger hdd in it use can dispense with the NAs as well if you haven't got too much data (my NAS is 4 Tb so not an option for me).
Do yourself a favour, until these boxes get a decent o/s you can go wrong with an xbox :)