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D-Link DSM-750
Pricing at publication
  MSRP Street Amazon.com
D-Link DSM-750 $319.99 $249.91 $303.70


Warranty: 1 year on hardware

Summary: A fine Media Center Extender for those who don't want a gaming system in their home theater.

Back in Episode #178 (June, 2007) we did a feature on the Vista Media Center. For that review we used an HP m8000n to run the Media Center.  We talked about the features of the Media Center and how one could use the computer to run spreadsheets during the day and watch live TV or movies using an extender device at night. If you are not familiar with the features of the Media Center, that would be a good show to go back and listen to. We will only be covering specific features of the Media Center as they pertain to the DSM-750. 

When we recorded Episode #178 the only media center extender that was available was the Xbox 360. More recently on Episode #261 (March, 2008) we highlighted five new Media Extender devices that are either on the market of will be on the market soon. Today we had the opportunity to put the D-Link DSM-750 through its paces. For this review, we ran Microsoft Vista Media Center on an HP laptop and connected to the HD Homerun Ara already had setup in his home. For this review we are not going to go into the features 

Features

  • The DSM-750 includes a MediaLounge Media Player mode, which allows a Windows XP OS-based PC to stream music, photos, and videos. This mode also enables streaming of music, photos, and videos stored on a Networked Attached Storage2 or USB Flash Drive3
  • The DSM-750 supports HD video resolutions of up to 1080i so you can enjoy life-like picture quality on your 1080p-capable HDTV
  • The DSM-750 supports HD video in either Windows Media Video 9 or MPEG-2/47 format
  • Dual User Modes: Extender for Windows Media Center and D-Link MediaLounge

Setup

The 750 uses both wired and wireless. It supports 802.11N which theoretically has plenty of bandwidth for HD ... more on that later. For the wired test we connected an HDMI cable to the player and an HDMI switching receiver. We connected Ethernet and power and that was it! We were ready to turn on the system. Once turned on we entered the 750's setup menu so we could configure it to join the network. Once that was done, the Vista PC immediately recognized the player and asked if you wanted to add the extender. This was done by entering two four digit numbers that the extender was displaying into the Media Center PC.

For the second part of the setup we disconnected the Ethernet cable of connected three antennas to the 750. We had to go into the setup screens again to enter the wireless password which would allow it to join the network. We did this and were connected in a few seconds. But we found odd was that the Media Center wanted us to re-configure the extender. We had to input a different 8 digit sequence and let the extender and the media center rediscover each other. The process was slower using wireless. Now this is not a big deal as most people won't be switching between Wi-Fi and wired but we found it odd the the changing the network connection would require setting up the extender all over again.

The whole process was straight forward and did not require manuals. D-Link includes an easy to understand step by step guide to getting you up and running in no time.

Impressions

When using the 750 with a wired connection to the network the system was very responsive. It output a 1080i picture that looked as good as the 1080i signal Ara watches with his EyeTV/HD Homerun setup. The box was very quiet, far quieter than the Xbox 360. The Wi-Fi setup was not as snappy as the wired and we have an N network. In fact, it got a little annoying as there would be pauses between remote control actions. We later found out that they are recommending using an N network that is on the 5GHz band. This will eliminate interference from cordless phones or microwave ovens, which may have been the issue. D-Link includes a remote but we found that the Harmony 880 that was already setup to work with the Xbox 360 worked with the D-Link Extender.  

D-Link MediaLounge

This is a cool feature of the 750. It works as a media player with the computers you have on your network. Even though the Macintosh is not explicitly supported, it found the computers and was able to playback music and photos that were stored there. It will do the same with NAS devices that support DLNA or UPnP. The DSM-750 can also play music, videos, and photos that have been copied to a USB stick. 

What we liked:

  • Easy Setup
  • Very Quiet
  • The ability to play A/V files on networked computers via MediaLounge

What we disliked:

  • Slow interface with wireless
  • No 1080p upconversion

Conclusion

So if you are looking for a Microsoft Vista Media Center extender and don't want to put a game system into your home theater. The D-Link DSM-750 is a lower cost alternative that looks like it belongs in your living room or equipment rack.

Posted by The HT Guys, May 15, 2008 8:57 AM

More in Category: Media Players

About The HT Guys

The HT Guys, Ara Derderian and Braden Russell, are Engineers who formerly worked for the Advanced Digital Systems Group (ADSG) of Sony Pictures Entertainment. ADSG was the R&D unit of the sound department producing products for movie theaters and movie studios.

Two of the products they worked on include the DCP-1000 and DADR-5000. The DCP is a digital cinema processor used in movie theaters around the world. The DADR-5000 is a disk-based audio dubber used on Hollywood sound stages.

ADSG was awarded a Technical Academy Award by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences in 2000 for the development of the DADR-5000. Ara holds three patents for his development work in Digital Cinema and Digital Audio Recording.

Every week they put together a podcast about High Definition TV and Home Theater. Each episode brings news from the A/V world, helpful product reviews and insights and help in demystifying and simplifying HDTV and home theater.