Tonight I had my first play with Linksys’s DMA2100 Media Center Extender, so here are my first impressions.
I have been using an Xbox 360 as an extender for nearly two years now and am very happy with it so going to be hard for the new Extenders to match up to that. First thing you notice is how small the unit is, its about a quarter of the size of the 360 and has just a blue LED on the front to show its powered on (no fans here).
Included in the box is a Remote that is light and maybe feels a little on the cheap side but its a learning remote and worked with no problems. Also included in the box are Component cables, what is not included is a HDMI cable with is a shame as that is the best way of connecting the Extender. It also caused me a problem as they way I have mounted my TV on the wall I could not reach to get the Component cables connected, where as I can get a HDMI cable connected without to much trouble. This meant that I could only use the standard def composite cable and not to experience it in HD. So I am off to buy a HDMI cable and will try it again.
As you will see in the video (out soon) when you power unit it it walks you through a series setup questions. Things like video output (50hz or 60hz hurray!), screen type, audio output etc. For my first test I connected it up with Ethernet, I will test wireless at a later date. Once I had completed the setup the unit gave me a code number that I could type in to my Media Center PC, just like the Xbox 360 setup. After entering the code my PC configured the Extender settings, over on the Extender it told me that my PC needed an update before it would work , it pointed me at a URL www.Microsoft.com/extender/update where there is a download for an Media Center update (32bit and 64bit). Once I installed the update I had to reboot the PC and then it connected.
The unit connected and I had the standard Media Center UI. I don’t want to judge the picture quality to much yet as it was just over the composite cable. In use as I noted at CES the transitions and animations are not as smooth as the Xbox 360 but still acceptable. When watching standard TV it looked as good as the Xbox, but in the Media Center UI the blue was a little washed out and the text didn’t look to good, but this could be the cable and I want to wait to see it with HDMI before I investigate that side of it.
I was asked about the Zoom modes, and it only has 3 zoom modes and not the 4 mode that Media Center has on the PC and the Xbox 360.
So watch the video and have a look at the unboxing, I am going to get the DMA2200 connected over the weekend and next week will have a more detailed video out. Please let me know if there are any aspects I should look at