Buffalo Technology LinkTheater

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Buffalo Technology LinkTheater
  • Expert Rating

    4.50 / 5

Pros

  • Progressive scan, high-definition, straightforward wireless network playback

Cons

  • Minor glitch in requiring the user to set the DVD region manually

Bottom Line

The Buffalo LinkTheater is packed with features, including support for high-definition, progressive scan, wireless networking, and compatibility with just about every popular media format imaginable.

Would you buy this?

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Buffalo's LinkTheater is a top-notch network media player packed with powerful features. On paper, it's an impressive piece of kit. The device handles a massive range of video formats including DivX, XviD, QuickTime, WMV and all flavours of MPEG. It also supports all common audio formats ranging from MP2, MP3, OGG, WAV, WMA, M4A and AC3, and popular image formats. In fact, given the solid codec support, there's very little that the device won't play. The progressive scan DVD player also has no trouble reading burnt DVDs and CDs, and offers full support for HDTV formats right the way up to 1080i.

The LinkTheater features a stylish design with a slim (6cm) front face and mirrored finish. It is relatively wide, measuring 42cm across (with a depth of 27cm), but it should still fit in most home entertainment units. Power and playback buttons run along the bottom edge of the fascia, and there's a USB port for attaching external hard disks, digital cameras or memory keys. The back panel offers composite, component, S-Video and HDMI video connectors along with RCA, coaxial and S/PDIF audio outputs and an Ethernet socket to interface with a home network. The LinkTheater includes 802.11b/g Wi-Fi, but there is no external antenna. The device also ships with a matching silver ergonomic remote control. It's clearly laid out; however, the relatively small text is hard to read in a dimly lit room.

Setup takes around half an hour between unpacking the device and installing the software on the host PC. Only Windows software is provided, so Mac or Linux users are out in the cold. One elegant feature encountered during setup is the AOSS (AirStation One-Touch Secure Systems) button on the front panel that allows the device automatically detect and configure security settings with compatible devices (though there's no provision for WPA security).

After adding media and finishing the software configuration, the device is free to play back media files. The Link Theatre offers a slick black interface that's quick and easy to navigate via the bundled remote, and the system remained responsive during testing. All tested media played back smoothly without skipping or glitches. The only minor issue that we found was with the DVD region setting. By default, the device ships with a preset to handle region two DVDs, and you have to change the region setting before it will handle local (region four) discs. An instruction card is bundled to help you make the switch, but it's still something that should be done at the factory prior to shipping.

The region issue is an extremely minor fault for what is otherwise a stellar network media player.

Struggling for Christmas presents this year? Check out our Christmas Gift Guide for some top tech suggestions and more.

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