Holiday Buyer's Guide 2006, Part 2: Networking

Multimedia - Video

As our digital media libraries grow, so does the desire to not be stuck next to a computer to listen or watch them. Limitations imposed by various Digital Rights Management (DRM) schemes continue to be a big drag on this product category for legally-purchased media, so many users resort to building their libraries by ripping and downloading. For video files, however, the ability of products to handle the wide array of file formats and bit rates is just as large a problem.

Two media players that Jim Buzbee liked are Netgear's EVA700 and D-Link's DSM-520. Both support 1080i HD output via component video outputs, but the DSM-520 also sports an HDMI port. The EVA700 gets the nod for widest video format support and ability to play MP3 files that include album art, but has an unexciting user interface with inconsistent screen-saver feature.

Netgear EVA700 Digital Entertainer

The DSM-520 has a more attractive look and feel, but chokes on MP3 files with album art and has more limited video format support. No streaming media player does it all (not at least yet), but if you want to jump in now, these are two good choices.

D-Link DSM-520 Medialounge Wireless HD media player