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Buffalo probably isn’t the first name that springs to mind when you think of DVD players, but the Link Theater is more than just a DVD player. Following in the footsteps of KiSS, Buffalo has created a DVD player that can playback multiple video formats on multiple storage mediums. Gone are the days when consumers just needed MPEG2 DVD playback in their living room, now MPEG4 is as much a prerequisite as retail DVDs.
Considering that Buffalo isn’t primarily a consumer electronics company, it has done its best to make the Link Theater look good. The mirrored fascia complements the matt silver finish of the chassis, but unfortunately the green LED display is far less impressive and looks somewhat dated compared to most modern DVD players. The round silver buttons are also very generic in appearance and look purely functional rather than stylish. As far as buttons go you have Power, Eject, Stop, Skip Back, Skip Forward and Play/Pause. There’s also an AOSS button, which will enable Buffalo’s automatic security negotiation when the Link Theater is used in conjunction with a Buffalo wireless router or access point.
The Link Theater looks like a standard DVD player, but it’s actually so much more. But for simplicity sake, let’s start with just that, DVD playback. The quality of the DVD playback from the Link Theater is surprisingly good – this is helped by the fact that it supports progressive scan output from the component video ports. I watched a number of discs and was impressed overall, while the Link Theater also managed to playback some notoriously dodgy discs that my regular Pioneer player had trouble with.
I’m always glad to see component video connectors – the resulting image quality is far superior to SCART or S-Video. That said, if you don’t happen to have a TV with component inputs (although I can’t imagine why you wouldn’t) you’re somewhat out of luck, since there are no SCART sockets on the Link Theater. There is a D4 connector, but unfortunately this doesn’t mean very much to European consumers.
DVD playback wasn’t perfect though. For a start, the Link Theater isn’t multi-region out of the box. There is a code that you can type in on the remote to enable multi-region, but you’ll have to trawl through the Internet looking for it since it’s not in the manual. Or of course I could mention it – press “slow” then “2960” – but maybe I shouldn’t. If you do enter the region unlock code – whatever it may be – you will be able to set the Link Theater to any region. If you select Region 0, you should be able to play any disc – after selecting Region 0, I was able to play Region 1, 2 and 4 discs without any problems.