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Testing new media adapters, Part 2

Aug 04, 20033 mins
Cellular NetworksRouters

Linksys Wireless-B Media Adapter stresses simplicity and ease of use.

Linksys Wireless-B Media Adapter stresses simplicity and ease of use

Last time, I reviewed Prismiq’s MediaPlayer, a media adapter that lets you connect your PC to the stereo and TV in order to enjoy music, video and photos in the living room. This week, I tried out the Linksys Wireless-B Media Adapter, released earlier this month.

Like the Prismiq, the Linksys device comes with Ethernet and 802.11b wireless connections, and uses traditional audio/visual inputs and outputs to connect to your entertainment devices. Unlike the Prismiq, the Linksys device doesn’t stream video, which might explain the cost difference. Prismiq costs $249; Linksys is $199. However, the Linksys Media Adapter includes an embedded Wi-Fi connection, whereas the Prismiq box has just a PC Card slot for adding a wireless adapter. Then again, the Prismiq design lets you add a faster 802.11g adapter. 

This time around, I tested the wireless connection. First I set the media adapter next to my TV and connected the included antenna into the back of the box. Then I plugged in the power adapter and hit the unit’s power button, causing the small LED light to turn on. Next I connected the red/yellow/white multimedia cables attached to the Media Adapter into the back of my surround-sound system, which connects to my TV and stereo.  So far, so good.

I then went to my office to load the software on my PC. Like Prismiq’s adapter, the Linksys device includes software that sets up your PC as a home server. The program searches for media files, and manages the streaming and indexing of these files.

One major difference between the Linksys and Prismiq software: Linksys requires you to install Microsoft Windows .Net framework on your PC. As such, the Linksys box currently works only on Windows XP (home or professional) PCs. Since my PC didn’t have .Net installed, I loaded the Linksys CD setup disk, which loaded it onto my system.

 The .Net installation prompted a congratulations message and a request that I now load the Install Utility. Clicking OK installed the program that I would use to manage and send content to the Media Adapter. Overall the software installation was seamless and took less than 10 minutes.

Now the moment of truth.  I went back to the living room, Media Adapter remote control in hand. I turned on the TV, and stereo and the Linksys Media Adapter Navigator screen displayed. Its options are much more limited than that of the Prismiq device, including only Music, Photos and Help.

Clicking on Music prompted me to select music by artist, play list, genre and folder.  I chose Artist, and Beck, Cake, Elvis Costello and others came up. Clicking on Beck prompted me to select an album, which is the way many media players catalogue music files. When the Beck songs popped up I hit play. The music management feature lets you create play lists and other capabilities like you’d find with RealPlayer or Windows MediaPlayer.

The photo option worked well, letting me easily navigate through digital pictures stored on my hard disk with no noticeable lag, which I expected to experience connecting over a 5M bit/sec 802.11b wireless connection. 

Overall, the Linksys Wireless-B Media Player was extremely easy to install and use, impressive for such a low-cost device. However, in light of Prismiq’s device, the functionality seems quite limited. If you want ease of use and lack much tech knowledge, the Linksys box will please. If you’re looking for more advanced features and the ability to stream video, Prismiq is for you.