Buffalo Technology LinkTheater Wireless A&G Network Media Player
At a Glance
Buffalo Technologies LinkTheater Wireless A&G Network Media Player
This is a great audio server that happens to connect to your TV. Other products stream video better.
Since the LinkTheater can handle high-definition video streams only at 2.5 mbps or less, it's not really an HD video receiver (though it can use that resolution for photos). It lacks digital HDMI and DVI connections, too, so I used component video to connect it to my TV. But to tell the device that I was using component video, I had to plug in the composite video cable, navigate the menus until I found the right settings, select a component video option, and watch the screen go blank. I then had 10 seconds to switch cables so that I 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 unit has you enter your password in text-message style via buttons on the remote that resemble a telephone keypad. But the 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 my 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.
On-screen 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 LinkTheater provides no Internet radio support, but if you use Windows Media Player 11 or a Viiv PC as a server, it supports protected .wma music.