Elsewhere it stacks up pretty well, though. Standard definition material played back smoothly over the wireless connection, and with well-encoded video the picture quality is excellent, with vibrant colours and a rock steady picture. Even low-resolution encodes DivX encodes look good on this box: I played back a DVD ripped at 564 x 300 and the results were truly excellent.
Even if your network isn’t the speediest, the server software does its best to help out, giving you the option to reduce the resolution and frame rate until you get to something that’s watchable. Its fast forward, pause and rewind functions work flawlessly too – not something you can say of all media streamers and the aforementioned automatic bookmark system is a brilliant time saver.
If you want to watch any HD material over wireless, though, you’re going to be a bit stuck – the 802.11g wireless built into the DSM-330 isn’t fast enough to play back even 720p DivX files reliably – but this is true of all streaming players that claim to be able to stream HD content over wireless. Of course there are some 720p DivX files that consume very little bandwidth and these are watchable over wireless, but if you want smooth performance, an all-wired network connection is a must. And in high-def mode, video looks every bit as wonderfully crisp and punchy as you’d expect it to be.
It all adds up to a bit of a mixed bag. On paper, the DivX endorsement makes it look like an exciting development and it looks good value too at just £130. I really like the menu systems, video playback quality is superb, and the ease with which you can go online and download from the Stage6 website is a real boon.
But it’s severely limited in its appeal, principally by its restriction to the DivX connected server software, which means anyone with media stored on a NAS box won’t give it a second look, but also by the lack of a search function for the Stage6 website and the lack of a USB port for connecting external storage.
Score in detail
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