Media Streamers will rule the world

Posted in Hardware by Ruslan Ulanov on the January 14th, 2010
Zyxel DMA-1100p

Zyxel DMA-1100p

In my search of a DLNA-compliant device to distribute Music and Video from my Media Server to the TV in the kitchen I looked through many sites and reviews, but then I stumbled upon a very nice and clean list of available Media Streamers on ProductWiki website.

It provides a great outlook on all the major (and some minor) players on the market along with MSRP and reviews on most of the boxes. Unfortunately, there’re not enough reviews on the site yet to make it a primary source for choosing your next electronic toy, but the nice design with clear pictures and short descriptions give you a good starting point for research.

This time around I decided to give a try to Zyxel DMA-1100p Digital Media Theater. Newegg has a very seductive price on it right now, so I just couldn’t pass it up.

A feature I was looking for in the DMA-1100p is the embedded HomePlug AV adapter. I’d been wanting to try HomePlug AV for the longest time, but the first generation of the technology was too slow to handle HD contents and the second still has a relatively high entry price point. The powerline adapters alone run for $100+, and you still need an Ethernet-enabled streamer to make use of it, which will cost you another Franklin or two.

DMA-1100p ships as a kit with all the pieces you need to establish HomePlug AV network, which makes Newegg’s price of $65.99 even sexier.

If you are not familiar with this technology, in a few words, what HomePlug AV does is “converting” the power lines in your home into Ethernet cable. So you can stream media with speeds up to 200Mbps without having to pull Cat5 cable from your router to TV location (which in my case happens to be the entire perimeter of the house).

HomePlug AV

The reviews on this technology are mostly positive, but the tinkerer that I am, I’d like to see for myself. Especially, I’d like to know how (or even if) it will co-exist with my powerline-based INSTEON home automation system. I’ll let you know what I discover.

According to UPS my new toy should arrive tomorrow, so don’t try to call me this weekend — it’s already taken.

😉

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  • IM Fletcher

    Any updates on this? Were you able to stream Netflix/Hulu/Amazon through this?

    • @IM Fletcher,

      No, I could not make Zyxel to see my PlayOn server that allows to stream Netflix, etc., although PlayOn works fine on my Wii and Win7 PCs.

      The local music plays fine as well as pictures, but many video files would not play at all – especially those taken with a Canon camera.

      I had a hard time trying to make this system work at certain locations that were of particular interest to me (such as kitchen), so I resorted to another, more reliable, solution – a dedicated low-power media center PC.

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  • Anon

    This thing is only $50 on Newegg now. Have you had a chance to test yours?

    • Unfortunately, I did not have much luck with my Zyxel DMA-1100p.

      It works fine when both transmitter and receiver units are plugged in to the same leg of power line, but it fails completely when receiver is either connected to a GFCI-protected outlet (i.e. any outlet in the kitchen) or if receiver is on the opposite phase of the power line. Also, it could be that my INSTEON-based home automation system introduced noise that prevented HomePlug AV from syncing or that surge suppressing extension cords that I have throughout the house did not play nice with HomePlug signals. There are so many variables to consider.

      So, in my particulate case this set-up was pretty much useless, your mileage may vary.

      I guess some of those issues could be mitigated by installing a phase coupler at the junction box, or connecting noisy devices through filters, etc. But I decided to skip that solution for the time being.