Paul Thurrott reviews Media Center Extenders

You may remember me getting a bit upset by Paul Thurrott’s dismissal of the new generation of Extenders for Windows Media Center. Basically he said the extenders were no better than the old models and they were not worth looking at. I totally disagreed with that and it looks like Paul may have softened his stance on them. This week he has reviewed the Extenders from HP, Linksys and D-Links and seems to like the HP Extender the most (which is not surprising given it’s the most expensive)

The HP MediaSmart Connect is the best Media Center Extender on the market today and it features excellent non-Extender functionality through its vibrant and professional looking MediaSmart interface as well. This interface provides access to USB- and Pocket Media Drive-based content, as well as content found on your home network, on PCs and other compatible connected devices, as well a small but growing list of online services. It’s hard to overstate how much nicer the HP MediaSmart Connect experience is than that which you get with other Extenders. The hardware is better, the software is better, and the overall experience is just superior. No, the HP isn’t perfect. But in the world of Media Center Extenders, it’s the sweet spot. Highly recommended.

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About the author Ian Dixon:
Ian Dixon is a Microsoft MVP (Most Valuable Professional), founder of tech site and producer of the weekly The Digital Lifestyle Show podcast. Ian has been writing and talking about Windows for over 10 years and has over 20 years in IT as an IT Manager. Ian thousands of followers on Twitter and Facebook and over 4 million views on his YouTube channel.
  • Anonymous
    He is still pretty dissmisive in regards to the Linksys. He states that DMA 2100 cannot stream properly 802.11n wireless or wired.
    As I do this daily I think he needs to review the unit again.
    He also says he is somewhat biased towards the HP extender because he likes it and although it is probably not, it feels faster than the DMA 2100 & 2200.

    AV connectivity. Excellent, assuming you’re going all-in with HD. While the x280n includes HDMI and component video out, it lacks any older composite- or S-video-style connectors at all. This is a device for the next-gen crowd, which I think is perfectly acceptable.

    No mention that it does not support 1080p even though its supposed to be for the next-gen crowd.

  • Anonymous
    I had a day off with the kids and managed to put my back out so that delayed me unboxing HP’s new TouchSmart…
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  • Anonymous
    He probably should install the latest firmware on the Linksys and review it again. It is more stable and faster with the latest firmware. I doubt there is any noticable difference between the two in extender mode. The only difference might be that from what I’ve read, the Linksys disables S/PDF when connected to HDMI, where’s as according to Chris Lanier, S/PDF is active on the HP if connected to HDMI. This might be the only real differentiater besides the non extender functionality of the HP.
  • Ian Dixon
    i didn’t find that the s/pdf was disabled on either unit as that is how I connected it up to my receiver
  • Anonymous
    Thanks Ian. That’s good to know that you can get 5.1 sound from S/PDF while sending the video over HDMI to your TV. I was hesitant to invest in a sound system assuming that I had to go component for the video in order to get 5.1 sound over S/PDF.
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