Switching to the Mac, we had much the same experience. With EyeConnect's DLNA server up and running, the DMP-1120w took an age to spot it over a wireless network. Connection made - eventually - we started listening to music and watching photo slide shows. And then the connection dropped. One minute the DMP-1120w could see the server, the next minute it couldn't. EyeConnect was running, but Solwise's box couldn't see it. It came back - eventually...
Ambitions to be an Apple TV?
Now, we're happy to acknowledge that the user manual does say that running both the PC-router and DMP-router links wirelessly may cause signal congestion and delay when watching video, but having to hard-wire and part of PC-router-DMP part of the link shouldn't be a precondition for the system working at all, which it seems to be for reasons that frankly escape us. Duff wireless unit in the review sample, perhaps?
Will connect to an HD TV, but the output's SD only
Having added our iTunes music library to Windows Media Player we were more than a little alarmed to find that when they were called up on the TV screen all our albums now had fully alphabetised according to filename track listings, despite reading correctly in the WMP library.
To be fair, TVersity made an even bigger hash of sorting the media on our test PC. Adding the opportunity to access web-based content to take your mind off your now probably rather chaotic, and in our case partly missing, media library really isn't much of a trade off. There's no YouTube access, but the DMP-1120w will connect to Flikr and to internet radio station database Radiotime - though our favourite statiom, California's Radio Paradise, was missing from the list.
Given time and patience it may be possible to find a free media server application that the Solwise is happy to work with - EyeConnect costs 36 quid - but we can't help but think that this should be Solwise's job, not the consumer's.
EyeConnect made a better stab of things: our iTunes library, complete with playlists, came up on the TV screen, with the songs correctly listed by track number. No album art, mind...
Look, ma, no album art...
The manual lists supported video formats as MPEGs 1-4, Motion JPEG, DivX and XVid. Well, maybe in an ideal world they are but how do you actually add MPEG 4 files to the media library of WMP when WMP won't recognise them as playable media in the first place? When we tried playing an MPEG 4 file off an SD card all we got was a flashing pink and green TV screen which meant that AVI files were the only ones we actually managed to get to work at the end of the day. DivX downloads should have no problems, though.
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 :)