|At a Glance|
|Product||D-Link High-Definition Media Player (DSM-510)|
|Summary||Mid-priced UPnP AV multiformat photo, audio and video player supporting up to 1080i|
|Pros|| HDMI connection
Support wide array of video formats
Handles third-party UPnP AV servers well
|Cons|| Requires WinXP/2000 PC to transcode many video formats
Bundled Nero MediaHome server a pain to use
Not much cheaper than DSM-520, but requires transcoding PC
When I reviewed D-Link's DSM-520 last year, I found it to be a capable network multimedia device suitable for playing digital media in the family room. As with all of these types of devices, I found that it had issues. But overall, it did about as well as any multimedia box I had tested up to that time.
Now D-Link has come out with a "little brother" to the DSM-520 that takes a different approach to the media-serving problem. In this review, I'll check out the capabilities of D-Link's DSM-510 to see how well it stacks up to its big brother.
One obvious difference between the 520 and the 510 is the size. The 520 uses a "home stereo" form-factor so it can slip right into your entertainment center. But the 510 is much smallerabout the size of a typical home wireless routerand an included stand allows the box to be mounted either horizontally or vertically.
The back of the 510 (Figure 1) has an HDMI port for digital display, composite audio and video analog outputs and an optical S/PDIF digital audio output that supports 5.1 audio. For network connectivity, both 10/100 Ethernet and 802.11g wireless are supported. The front of the box has a couple of bright blue status LEDs and a USB 2.0 port for hooking up an external drive.
Figure 1: Back Panel
Software-wise, D-Link has a couple of Windows-only options. The first option is Viiv support. Viiv is a platform certification standard being pushed by Intel that is designed to enable multimedia devices to interoperate. Like most PCs, mine's not Viiv certified, so I took the second path, UPnP AV.
For UPnP AV support, D-Link includes a media server package provided by Nero. Installation of the Nero package was straightforward. But like most of these bundled packages, it ended up installing a lot of additional software, such as a "CD Speed Enhancer" and "Showtime Media Player" that had nothing to do with serving media to the 510.
Even more annoying was that when the installation was complete, I found that all of my media file associations were redirected to a 30-day free-trial Nero product instead of iTunes, QuickTime, Microsoft Media Player, etc. Not that other multimedia applications don't try to do the same thing, but at least they ask for user confirmation. Bad Nero, bad! I also found the Nero UPnP AV server poorly documented and a bit of a pain to set up, with an occasional crash (Figure 2).
Figure 2: Nero Crash
Normally, with these software media servers, you just choose the media directories to share and you're on your way. But the Nero server took a bit of fumbling on my part before I found the right options to get it set up and running. Once the server was up, I turned back to the 510 itself.