Home Broadcast Studio: Multimedia Network Players


WLAN networking is not always the ideal solution. Unforeseeable factors like the materials in your living-room walls can interfere with establishing a stable connection. Alternatively or in addition to Wireless LAN, according to IEEE standard 802.11b's specifications, you can also fall back on HomePlug. It's a standard that uses the existing power circuit to transmit data phase-independent. The gross transfer rate is generally somewhere between 12 and 14 Mbit/s, making the real rate around 5.5 to 6 Mbit/s. That's enough to play MPEG-1/2 videos in (S)VCD and mid-range DVD quality. Devolo already sells corresponding adapters starting at €80.

Wireless LAN may be suitable or not, depending on the application, A/V transmission, the standard used (802.11b, g or even a), the architectural fabric and the distance that has to be bridged between transmitter and receiver. As a rule, you should calculate 30% to 40% more bandwidth than for a cable connection due to interference and brief disconnections - and figure 20% more on top of that for activated encryption. Its low bandwidth of 11 Mbit/s (around 4-5 net Mbit/s) means that 802.11b is only really suitable for audio, photo and non-broadband video transmission. In addition, the range and connective stability of 802.11a networks within buildings have proven less adequate than that of the b and g networks. Now the 802.11g turbo mode is the best solution for setting up a wireless home network. An 802.11g connection using two access points (one of which must have bridge functionality), like the Netgear Wireless VPN Firewall Router FWAG-114 and the Netgear Wireless Ethernet Bridge WGE101, has shown to be the most stable.

An interesting alternative to fooling with cables: Devolo's dLAN adapter lets you use your home wiring as a network at up to 6 Mbit/s (net). That's enough to transmit even MPEG-2 videos in longplay-DVD quality.

A simple Ethernet network still offers the most secure and fastest connection. The price for such a network is relatively low, although you might have to lay many feet of of cable in your living space. It's not easy and takes a whole lot of work to do a good job hiding the unsightly wires. If that's too much for you, then you should take a look at the alternatives presented here.

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