Allow me to tell you a little about my house and hopefully you’ll see how the D-Link DSM-320 Media Lounge works so well for me, while it may possibly be useless for someone else. I have a cable Broadband connection in my home office which feeds into a 3Com four port gateway with 802.11g wireless networking, and my workstation connects to the 3Com gateway over Ethernet. This setup makes it simple for me to connect other PCs in the house to the Internet, along with test PCs, test motherboards and test notebooks over wireless, as 802.11g is backwards compatible with 802.11b WiFi.
I listen to most of my music on my PC from the 42GB of MP3s stashed on my hard drive, and while I play games on my PC I never watch DVDs on it so I have a decent set of 2.1-channel speakers in my office instead of a set of 5.1 (or more) surround sound speakers.
Some distance away in the lounge we have the TV, DVD player, PlayStation 2 and hi-fi. If I choose I can switch my TV sound through my hi-fi to give decent stereo output, and of course I have a set of surround sound speakers attached to the DVD player to make sure that movies sound authentic.
That’s a fair amount of hardware but you’ll note that there is no connection between the kit in my office and the stuff in my lounge. In many ways it’s the opposite approach to that which Microsoft is pushing with its Media Center PC environment but it works very well for me as it means that I can separate my work from my leisure. When I’m sat at my PC I’m either working, taking a break from work with a game or looking up stuff on the Internet, but these are solitary pursuits. If I’m in the lounge watching a movie or the TV then it’s usually a social thing when the working day has ended.
This approach has served me well, although there is a fly in the ointment. Like so many others I use my Broadband connection to download TV programmes from the US as I bitterly resent waiting three months to watch the latest TV shows on Sky. More to the point, some shows such as NYPD Blue stopped coming to the UK years ago, and the fact that I can skip the adverts is a real bonus – this is something that I’ve talked about previously here.
So I have 101GB of TV shows in AVI format which I can watch on my PC using any one of a number of media players, but I really don’t want to watch TV on my PC whether it’s live or recorded. Neither do I want to string a TV-Out cable from my office to the lounge so I can use my TV as a PC monitor. I’d have to find a way to control the PC, and I doubt that an ATi or nVidia remote would work through two walls so the obvious answer seems to be some sort of Media Center PC in the lounge right? Wrong, what I need is some sort of box that receives media from my PC wirelessly and then connects to my TV so I can sit on the sofa and watch what I want, when I want. This, then, is the D-Link DSM-320 Media Lounge.