Wireless Media Player Buyer’s Guide
Wireless media players, also known as wireless media, or audio streamers enable music stored on a PC to be played through a HiFi system by creating a wireless network via the device.
This expert guide aims to explain the different types of wireless media players; important features to take into consideration when reviewing these streamers, as well as provide guidance on the types available within the various budget ranges.
Available types of wireless media players
There are three primary types of wireless audio streamers, the first is where the device has to be connected to the HiFi or amplifier to stream music from a PC and the second is a standalone unit which has its own speakers built in. Not only will they stream stored music from a PC but also enable you to listen to internet radio. The final type of wireless media player can stream video, still pictures; internet videos as well as audio files.
There are many different models of wireless media players on the market, when comparing the products ensure that you take the following specifications into consideration.
Before shopping for a wireless media player it is best to decide on the type of streamer you require in other words just audio, or audio and visual as a combination wireless media player will need to be connected to the TV or receiver, and an audio media player is connected to a Hi-Fi or amplifier.
- Wi-Fi or Bluetooth
Wireless media players can be either Wi-Fi or Bluetooth. Wi-Fi devices support high-speed transmissions, as well as access to the Internet and local networks. Bluetooth wireless media players only support low to medium transmissions and cannot play real-time or streaming videos.
It is important to note that other wireless equipment, like cordless telephones, can interfere with the wireless media player’s signal. To avoid this ensure that the wireless media player has a frequency of at least 2.4GHz.
Wireless networks are easy targets for hackers. When selecting a wireless media player ensure that it has wired equivalent privacy (WEP) encryption. This should prevent unauthorized access to your computer through the wireless network.
- File format compatibility
Depending on what you intend using the wireless media player for, it is important to check what types of audio and other media files the player will support. For an audio only wireless player it should support MP3; WMA and WAV at a minimum. If you intend using the wireless media player for visual stills and movies as well as audio, then it should also support JPEG; TIFF; GIF; MPEG and even AVI or XviD.
Entry level budget
The wireless media player market is quite competitive and there isn’t a great difference in price between the entry level and top of the range offerings. In fact there are some great wireless media players for less than $150.
The D-Link MediaLounge DSM-510 wireless HD media player can be purchased for around $147. It offers exceptionally fast performance for a lower priced player, and can stream video; music; photos and online media to your home entertainment system from your PC. It is also compatible with high definition using a high definition multimedia interface (HDMI) with a video resolution of up to 1080i. It has received a good overall expert review rating of 72%, refer to www.testseek.com.
To ensure superior picture quality and almost seamless streaming then you will have to dig a little deeper into your pockets.
The Netgear Digital Entertainer HD EVA8000 carries the hefty price tag of around $312 but it is worth it. It supports a myriad of file formats for both audio and visual files and can even stream music purchased from iTunes. It is high definition compatible with excellent image quality and will even stream internet files including photographs from Flickr and YouTube videos. This popular wireless media player has received an overall expert review rating of 77%; refer to www.testseek.com for more information.
The top of the line wireless media players which offer the best performance; image quality and that can support the most file formats can be purchased for around $500.
The Sonos ZonePlayer ZP120 uses a powerful digital amplifier to produce superior sound. This superb wireless media player offers flawless wireless technology ensuring that music can be streamed to any room in the house without the need for additional wires. All that is needed is a high-speed internet connection and a router to plug the ZonePlayer into. This brilliant media streamer has received an overall expert rating of 72%; refer to www.testseek.com for further information.
It isn’t necessary to go for the top of the range wireless media player if your intension is to just use it in one or two rooms. The most important thing to determine upfront is whether you want an audio only or multimedia wireless player. If you are unsure which wireless media player is the best for you then refer to expert reviews like those available at www.testseek.com to see the advantages and disadvantages of the different ones.
Disclaimer: This guide was written in late 2008 and the specific product recommendations may be outdated. However the basic discussions in this buyer's guide may still be of great value.
Written by; TestSeek staff