D-Link MediaLounge DSM-320

D-Link's feature-rich MediaLounge network receiver is hobbled by uneven wireless performance.


7.4
User Rating

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Fresh off the heels of a major upgrade, D-Link's MediaLounge DSM-320 is among the first digital media receivers capable of wirelessly streaming rights-managed (DRM) audio files, such as those purchased from the Musicmatch or Napster stores, from your PC to your home stereo. Like many other digital media receivers, the DSM-320 also plays video and image files. It even supports Rhapsody, a leading, on-demand streaming music service. Unfortunately, with at least one router, wireless networking issues periodically stopped this dream machine in its tracks. That significant caveat aside, the versatile DSM-320 is among the best digital media receivers CNET has tested.

Design
Measuring 423 by 285 by 43 mm (WDH), the DSM-320 has a similar form factor to a home-theatre component, such as a DVD player. In contrast to digital media receivers that are styled more like computer gear, the DSM-320 will easily blend into a home-theatre rack. The device is entirely silver-gray except for a translucent, black plastic strip that spans the width of the front panel, covering a couple of blue status LEDs. With the exception of a power button, the front panel is devoid of controls; you must operate the DSM-320 with the remote (a bummer if it gets lost). Because there's no front-panel text display, you'll have to switch on the TV to navigate the device -- that's a downer if you just want to listen to music. Another drawback: the DSM-320 doesn't display album art.

The midsize remote has a full array of buttons, including the requisite four-way keypad plus Music, Photo, Video, and Online media buttons that shortcut to the primary media navigation screens. Although the remote has Page Up and Page Down buttons, scrolling through long track lists can be sluggish. What's more, even though the remote has an alphanumeric keypad, you can't simply jump to a file by pressing the first letter of its name; instead you must press Search to open a dedicated search screen. Otherwise, the TV-based interface is generally clean and fairly easy to navigate.

Features
Two separate PC applications can be used to stream files to the DSM-320 from your hard drive. Windows XP users with the Service Pack 2 upgrade can use Windows Media Connect (a free download) instead of D-Link's Media Server application, which isn't compatible with rights-managed WMA files. I recommend choosing one or the other, however, as simultaneously running both makes using the DSM-320 somewhat more of a hassle.

Using the Windows Media Connect server with the DSM-320, you can play MP3, WMA (rights-managed and non-rights-managed) and WAV audio files; MPEG-1, MPEG-2, and MPEG-4 video files; JPEG, BMP, PNG, TIFF, and GIF image files. The DSM-320 doesn't support Windows Media Video (WMV) files, nor can it play protected AAC files purchased from iTunes Music Store. Although the Windows Media Connect server is documented as supporting only WPL (Windows Media Player format) playlists, I was also able to play M3U (Musicmatch) playlists with it. The Rhapsody application must be running to enable streaming tracks from the on-demand music service, which sells subscriptions for US$10 a month. It's also worth noting that AOL Internet Radio is supported.

Connectivity is a strong point of the DSM-320. Unlike most digital media receivers, the D-Link includes optical and coaxial digital outputs in addition to the requisite analog outputs. And while the 320 sports a component-video output (in addition to composite and S-Video), it can't output high-def video or photos like the Roku HD-1000 can. More impressive is the DSM-320's support for wide-screen (16:9) and standard (4:3) aspect ratio televisions. And although the DSM-320 has integrated 802.11g wireless networking, it also includes an Ethernet port for wired networks.

Performance
I tested the DSM-320's chops with rights-managed WMA music files purchased from both the Napster and Musicmatch stores. The device played the files without a hitch. My video test files and photo slide shows also played smoothly and looked sharp. I was easily able to start a photo slide show, then select musical accompaniment for it. Because the DSM-320 utilises the 802.11g standard (as opposed to lower-bandwidth 802.11b), the bandwidth is adequate for playing most of the video files that might be kicking around your PC's hard drive. Of course, your network's individual peculiarities may mean that everything -- including the DSM-320 -- won't work at optimal speeds.

The unit suffered a couple of frustrating problems that rendered it temporarily inoperable. For example, when set up about 9 meters away from my wireless router with a couple of walls separating the two, the DSM-320 sometimes had problems finding the server after booting up and occasionally dropped an established connection or crashed. A few times it even went into a loop, rebooting continuously until I yanked the power cord. Replacing my SMC router with a D-Link model seemed to largely alleviate the snags.

At its best, the DSM-320 is a world-class contender. At its worst, it's downright exasperating. Although the unit is highly affordable and has tons of cool features, I'd like to see it guaranteed to work with a wider selection of non-D-Link routers and access points.

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Paul782
9
Rating
 

Paul782 posted a review   

The Good:Easy setup, Clear even using Composite, Only took 15 mins setup out of box, was watching tv shows rights away, music plays great, will buy another unit for guest room, picked up neighbors wireless network 30' away through brick and wood.

The Bad:None yet

Works great, Setup was a breeze if you know how to setup laptop wireless everything is easy. Plays everything so far.

Paul_Harvey
7
Rating
 

Paul_Harvey posted a review   

The Good:- Contray to what people are saying this device will work with Apple Computers and can stream iTunes and iPhoto Library's, you just need the right Software. I use EyeConnect, works prefectly with iTunes and iPhoto and will Transcode in realtime the ACC files to the DSM-320. There is other software that supports iTunes such as such as TwonkyVision (Supports WinAmp and Adobe PhotoAlbum as well) and Allegro iTunes Server. You just have to do your research.
- Easy to use and simple interface

The Bad:- Dosent support Protected iTunes Songs (DSM Plays the Purchased iTunes Plus Songs perfectly, The Protected songs I just burn to a CD then rip them again to remove the DRM)
- No WPA Support
- No Album Artwork
- Cant play songs while playing photo's

Great Device as long as you update to very latest Firmware and don't use D-Links corrupt media software.

slaternator
2
Rating
 

slaternator posted a review   

The Good:very few

The Bad:wireelss conectivity very very limited.

next to useless wireless setup
drop out all the time, no tech support

anonymous
5
Rating
 

anonymous posted a review   

The Good:- good picture quality (photos & Divx)
- light
- easy setup

The Bad:- wireless is too unreliable
- no WPA support
- seems worse when opening folders with large content

Similar to other folks comments, is great when it works which unfortunately is rare. Seemed to work a little better when dropped WEP security from 128 bit to 64 but even then it's still not a keeper. I haven't tried it wired but that's not what I was looking for anyway.

medialounge_sucks
2
Rating
 

medialounge_sucks posted a review   

The Good:Was a good idea

The Bad:It just doesn't work.

Two units have died in under 3 months.
Tech support is a joke. Warranty is useless if not purchased from an authorized reseller. I'd rate it a zero if I could, but this site doesn't seem to even allow a one to be posted.

Halfway2forever
4
Rating
 

Halfway2forever posted a review   
Australia

The Good:Intuitive remote control layout, Good manu structure, Easy antenna replacement with reverse SMA connection.

The Bad:Buggy and resource hungry supplied software - try TVersity instead. Poor Wireless performence, No support of WPA network security, Limited remote range

This is a great idea but it is let down by the slapdash implementation. the software is very buggy and the wireless reception is nowehere near good enough for decent video quality. My advice is until somebody brings out a wireless n based product.

JavaJack
4
Rating
 

"Not ready for primetime"

JavaJack posted a review   

The Good:Pros: small form factor, price

The Bad:Cons: Audio dropouts, lame software, wifi doesn't have enough throughput to stream .vobs.

The #1 reason I am ditching mine is that the included server software only plays mp3s IN ALPHABETICAL ORDER BY ID3 SONG TITLE TAG. It's too dumb to play them by filename order or ID3 track number! Unbelievable! Using TVersity is a workaround for this, but the audio still has pauses and dropouts. My recommendation - avoid.

Anonymous
8
Rating
 

"Good affordable media player"

Anonymous posted a review   

The Good:Connected up fairly easily with my netgear wirless router. Plays pretty much everything that I throw at it with the latest firmware and PC software. I recommend it to anyone looking wanting to eaily play music, view digital photos or play DivX (AVI) based content.

The Bad:Could do with a few more configurable options.

Anonymous
4
Rating
 

"doesnt stream realtime live webcasts"

Anonymous posted a review   

The Good:Works perfectly with JPEGs and MPEGS on my hard drive. I can play them all on my 65 inch telly flawlessly.

The Bad:It actually defeats one purpose-watching webcasts on bigscreen tv. Suppose you bought Webcast of a cricket match and want to watch it on the bigscreen, it doesnt work. I ended up connecting my laptop directly to the TV. Then why in the hell I need this gadget?

Drews
2
Rating
 

"Just didn't work"

Drews posted a review   

I spent hours on the phone with the help desk, nothing helped. Now the thing just sits on my entertainment system. The wireless just doesn't pick up my PC despite being in a room 5 feet away. I'm thinking about just punching a hole in the wall and hooking it up through the wires, but after all the hastle, not sure I shouldn't just throw the thing away


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User Reviews / Comments  D-Link MediaLounge DSM-320

  • Paul782

    Paul782

    Rating9

    "Works great, Setup was a breeze if you know how to setup laptop wireless everything is easy. Plays everything so far."

  • Paul_Harvey

    Paul_Harvey

    Rating7

    "Great Device as long as you update to very latest Firmware and don't use D-Links corrupt media software."

  • slaternator

    slaternator

    Rating2

    "next to useless wireless setup
    drop out all the time, no tech support"

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