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Media Center Extenders at CES

January 9, 2008

I had hoped that the dedicated Media Center Extenders being shown at CES would solve at least two of my problems with the Xbox 360 as an Extender:

  • Problems updating the library used by the Extender in a timely manner (which I had no expectations would be solved by a dedicated Extender).
  • The inability to play many common video codecs (such as H.264).
  • The lack of fast forward and rewind transport functionality when playing audio files.

The second of these is addressed by the new Media Center Extenders, but, surprisingly not the last. According to Microsoft, the problem relates to a fairly simplistic design of how audio files are streamed. The person I spoke to indicted that it is something they are aware of and would like to address.

Until then, if you are buying a dedicated extender, maybe DLink has the best approach with their MediaLounge DSM-750. It acts as an Extender, but can also being used as a conventional UPnP media player that is not subject to some of the disadvantages of Extenders– of course you don’t get the plethora of Extender advantages when used in that mode, but maybe this is the best way to get the benefits of an extender, but not be locked out of accessing some key media.

Note: in theory the Xbox 360 could access this media when accessed from the Xbox 360 dashboard, but this has proved problematic due to some weird behavior and limitations of Windows Media Connect (which the 360 dashboard uses to access media on other PCs).

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