Since the Buffalo LinkTheater can handle high-definition video streams only at 2.5mbps (megabits per second) or less, it's not really an HD (high definition) video receiver - although it can use that resolution for photos.

The Buffalo LinkTheater lacks digital HDMI (high definition multimedia interface) and DVI (digital video interface) connections, too, so we used component video to connect it to our TV.

But to tell the Buffalo LinkTheater that we were using component video, we had to plug in the composite video cable, navigate the menus until we found the right settings, select a component video option, and watch the screen go blank.

We then had 10 seconds to switch cables so that we could see what was on the screen and confirm the new setting before the player reverted to composite.

Setting up Wi-Fi was no picnic, either. Like many rival players, the Buffalo LinkTheater has you enter your password in text-message style via buttons on the remote that resemble a telephone keypad.

But the Buffalo LinkTheater is overeager; if you pause even briefly after pressing the 9 key four of the nine times needed to get a capital Z, you'll get a lowercase z and a 9. Another snafu: The bundled software wouldn't install on our Vista PC (Buffalo is working on a fix), but Vista's own UPnP server worked just fine. Unlike the other non-Apple players, the Buffalo can't see files on a networked PC if media server software isn't used.

Onscreen menus lacked the good looks and fun animation of many competing players, but they were responsive and reasonably easy to read and follow.

Videos had some pixelation, but not too much, and music played exceedingly well. Over an optical-audio connection, sound was clear, clean, and powerful. Photos looked sharp and vibrant, too.

The Buffalo LinkTheater provides no internet radio support, but if you use Windows Media Player 11.0 or a Viiv PC as a server, it supports protected .wma music.

Buffalo LinkTheater: Specs

  • A&G Network Media Player PC-P4LWAG, digital multimedia receiver
  • 280x124x47mm
  • 0.7 kg
  • AC 120/230 V (50/60 Hz)
  • infrared remote control
  • Intel VIIV Technology
  • stereo
  • digital audio, digital photo, digital video playback
  • wireless, wired connectivity - IEEE 802.11b (Wi-Fi), IEEE 802.11a, IEEE 802.11g, IEEE 802.3 (Ethernet), USB, IEEE 802.3u (Fast Ethernet)
  • 128-bit WEP, 64-bit WEP, WPA-PSK (TKIP) encryption
  • supports MP3, WMA, WAV, AC3, AAC
  • BMP, JPG, PNG
  • MPEG-1, MPEG-2, MPEG-4, Xvid, WMV
  • omposite video, S-Video, component vid
  • A&G Network Media Player PC-P4LWAG, digital multimedia receiver
  • 280x124x47mm
  • 0.7 kg
  • AC 120/230 V (50/60 Hz)
  • infrared remote control
  • Intel VIIV Technology
  • stereo
  • digital audio, digital photo, digital video playback
  • wireless, wired connectivity - IEEE 802.11b (Wi-Fi), IEEE 802.11a, IEEE 802.11g, IEEE 802.3 (Ethernet), USB, IEEE 802.3u (Fast Ethernet)
  • 128-bit WEP, 64-bit WEP, WPA-PSK (TKIP) encryption
  • supports MP3, WMA, WAV, AC3, AAC
  • BMP, JPG, PNG
  • MPEG-1, MPEG-2, MPEG-4, Xvid, WMV
  • omposite video, S-Video, component vid

OUR VERDICT

It's a faff to set up and use, and we're not convinced of the Buffalo LinkTheater 's HD capabilities. But the Buffalo LinkTheater has plenty going for it.

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