Since it appears that no one really knows which is the best Media Center Extender, I’ll have to figure it out myself. This is a good thing, as I really like doing this type of thing.
As hard as I tried yesterday, I wasn’t able to order a D-Link DSM-750 for less than $300 yesterday, and after learning that my local Circuit City had the Linksys DMA2100 in stock for $249, I went ahead and picked one up. At the same time, I got an email from a representative of D-Link who’d saw my post yesterday and offered to send me a DSM-750 for review! So once I get it, I plan to rent an Xbox 360 and do a full head to head review for Engadget HD. But in the meantime, here’s my initial impressions of the Linksys.
Setup was easy — although it did take like 5 tries before it’d link up with VMC — but despite the unit being about 15 feet from my 802.11G AP and without any walls in the way, the network tuner indicated I didn’t have enough throughput for HD. So I found a patch cable and used the CAT5 drop I already had behind the TV. The remote isn’t nearly as bad as Chris L lead me to believe it was, but programming was really weird — love the fact the vol, mute and pwr is programmable though– and the LiveTV, RecordedTV etc, buttons on the top are a little on the small side. The UI is very responsive and down right fast, but I’m surprised how drab it looks without the animations etc. Overall I have to say Microsoft did a great job — yeah, I said it — integrating the extenders. I’m very impressed with the experience and the tuner conflict resolution, as well as the way the two TVs don’t step on each other. Nice job guys. The box is completely silent and the remote does work good; in fact my only hardware complaint is the super bright blue led, that actually woke me out of bed in the middle of the night in search of some black tape to cover it with.
To give you an idea of how well this thing worked out of the box is that I actually set it up in about 30 minutes and my wife was watching her shows on it the same night. And just like most others, my wife is my toughest user. I should have the final part today as I expect my CableCARD tuner, so my migration from TiVo to VMC is nearly completion.