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One thing that annoyed me is that if you’ve got the player set to output widescreen DVD and you insert a 4:3 disc, instead of zooming the picture, it will play it in 4:3 with bars down the side. OK, I accept that it’s not really doing anything wrong, but if you’ve got a widescreen TV you don’t want to be watching your content like that.
As well as the aforementioned component video and S-Video connectors at the rear, you’ll also find a composite video output – but if you use this, you deserve to be slapped. Audio is well catered for with analogue stereo outputs as well as both optical and coaxial digital outputs. There’s no analogue surround sound outputs, but amps with integrated processors are so cheap now that they’re not really necessary.
The final port at the rear is something that’s been common on KiSS players for years – an Ethernet port. Unsurprisingly, the Ethernet port allows you to connect the Link Theater to your network and stream content from a PC. This allows you to store all your music, video and images on your PC, but view them in your living room. The only problem is that you’ll need to have a CAT5 cable running through your house between the two devices. Once solution would be to connect a wireless bridge to the Ethernet port – something that I do with my Xbox and PlayStation 2. However, Buffalo is way ahead of me on this one.
You see the Link Theater also has a built-in wireless adapter, so you won’t need to use a bridge to get connected to your wireless network. You’ll notice from the pictures that there isn’t an antenna on the Link Theater, but despite this it managed to connect to my router without issue. The reason that I am impressed with the wireless adapter in the Link Theater is that my flat is a very hostile environment for WiFi – the building was constructed in the 1850s and there are several solid stone walls between my living room and bedroom (where the router sits).
Of course linking to the router is only half the battle – it’s the quality of the streaming that’s really important. Playback of MP3 files from my PC was good, although the first track always seemed to come through garbled for the first few seconds, before smoothing out. After that initial splutter though, MP3 sound quality was excellent. Viewing images and slide shows was also impressive, allowing you to bore your friends with all your holiday snaps from the comfort of your sofa.