While almost every company now makes a netbook (expect that to include nettop soon) it seems the latest 'me too' category is TV media players but first impressions of Dane-Elec's debut entry suggest it is here to do more than make up the numbers...
The 'SO G-Stream' is aimed squarely at the WD TV for two reasons: 1, it sits in the same price bracket and 2, it's based on the same third party chipset. Consequently what you'll find is a hugely flexible unit which can hook up to a TV via HDMI or composite ports and accepts content via USB or MemoryStick, SD and MMC cards. There's also the same mass of codec support including *deep breath*:
IFO, VOB, DAT, AVI, MPG, MPEG-2, TS HD DivX, ISO, MKV, MP3, WMA, WAV, AAC, OGG, AC3, MP4, JPG, JPEG and BMP.
So where are the differences? On the one hand the SO G-Stream plays back 720p and 1080i but not 1080p which is surprising since the WD TV handles 1080p with ease. The SO G-Stream also doesn't support album art or recognise audio file tags which again seems strange given the WD TV does so I'd expect a firmware update to fix this.
More positively however Dane-Elec's real differentiator is the inclusion of WiFi which means you can stream content around your network. It is limited to 802.11g which is slightly surprising given 802.11n makes a far better job of streaming HD content over greater distances but it certainly adds another string to its bow. There's also an Ethernet port if you'd prefer a more fixed connection. Swings and roundabouts...
The Dane-Elec SO G-Stream goes on sale now for approximately £90 which makes it only marginally more expensive than the WD TV and it makes for an interesting alternative. That said, with a WD TV 2 also said to be in the works this looks like one industry sector that's going to become jam packed with good products.
Update: Expansys is currently listing the SO G-Stream for £77. Quids in!