v2 extenders available for ordering

Thanks to a tip from Chris Lanier, I’ve found the first of the v2 Media Center extenders to show up at online stores.

Linksys still lists the status of its DMA2100 and DMA2200 extenders as “coming in November.” But searching for those model numbers using Google’s product search page turns up plenty of (mostly small) online vendors with product information posted. (Here’s the search result for the DMA2100, and here’s the result for the DMA2200.)

Linksys DMA2200 extender

That’s the DMA2200 above, which differs from the DMA2100 in that it has an upscaling DVD player. Both models have Wireless N capability as well as wired Ethernet connections and support 1080p content streamed from a Vista Media Center PC.

Confusingly, the product descriptions on most of the sites I saw refer to the product as a “dual band wireless N HD DVD Media Center Extender.” You might think, given that description, that the device has an HD DVD player in it, but you’d be wrong.

Anyway, I just ordered a DMA2200 from Excaliberpc.com for $297.24. I made my first purchase from this company last month with excellent results, and their feedback at Reseller Ratings is outstanding. Now it’s just a matter of waiting for the units to show up as “in stock.”

[Update 13-Nov: Excaliber PC now says they don’t expect to receive units until December 1. Dang.]

Still no sign of D-Link’s DSM-750 (“coming soon”) or the presumably pricey Niveus Edge (“available in December 2007”).

Update: Chris’s original post points to an estimate at Cost Central (Erie Computer Company) that projects both units to arrive at the company’s warehouse on November 14. The company has an excellent record from Reseller Ratings. Neutron USA has the DMA2100 and DMA2200 listed with estimated arrival dates of November 16 and November 21, respectively. Reseller Ratings feedback is less than stellar for this vendor, so caveat emptor.

20 thoughts on “v2 extenders available for ordering

  1. IMHO the XBX360 still offers the best MCE experience there is out there. For those who can’t stand wiring these solutions might work out.

  2. Adi, I have two Xbox 360s. Unfortunately, the noise level makes them unusable in my viewing areas. Maybe I just have two bum units, but that’s the reality here. I’m looking forward to the fanless design of these devices.

  3. As you know, “quiet” is high on my requirements list for a box that’s going to live in the home theater room. How do you know the Linksys extenders are fanless? I haven’t found any specs online.

  4. Xbox 360 is loud. No, you don’t have a bum unit. I, too, am waiting for a suitable alternative to Xbox!

  5. There are a bunch of alternatives to the linksys extenders that are currently available. Helios makes some (X3000, X5000), Momitsu makes some (they have some high-end ones too), Ziova has one of the best rated media servers that offers Mac and PC connectivity, and there’s Popcorn Hour (not sure if this is shipping yet). Most, if not all of these are based on the EM86XX chips. Most of these units are cheaper than the Linksys extender, but I’m not sure how many offer wireless-N (I prefer ethernet anyway, but some might need wireless, and N makes sense if streaming HD content).

    There are also some mainstream A/V companies that sell dvd/media extenders, but they tend to be a little more expensive. HKflix.com has a pretty good assortment in their hardware section…I’m not recommending ordering from them as I have no experience with them, but they have a decent list of media extenders that seem at least as good if not better than the linksys offerings…and you can actually buy them now.

    Hope the info is useful…I’d recommend the Ziova extender, which is what I currently have in my HT…I had a Helios X3000 and wasn’t thrilled with the quality of the dvd upscale, but I’m pretty picky.

  6. Joe, thanks for those pointers. The trouble with all those products is they don’t offer a solution that plays premium HD cable or satellite content. For someone who’s heavily into downloading media, it might work, but not for me.

  7. Ed, it doesn’t look like like the linksys boxes allow for HD cable or sat inputs either. I’d suggest putting in a DVD-S card (considering you already pay for the service) and then a nice video card w/ HDMI out that will allow for audio also.

    Correct me if I’m wrong, but I didn’t see anywhere in the info on the linksys extenders that says anything about allowing HD cable or sat to be run thru it…maybe you have a different idea about how to go about doing this.

    DVB cards can be a pain to run, but provide the best pic IMO.

    Please let me know what exactly you’re looking for and what you want it to do in your setup. I’d love to be able to connect my satellite to the linksys extender and broadcast it etc, but the specs don’t suggest that’s possible. I’d love to get away from dvb cards and find a more elegant solution…I was excited about the digital tuners that were shipping with media pcs, but they don’t seem that great…and I haven’t been able to find a place to buy just the tuner w/o the pc…sounds like a decent way for HD cable since they have 2 cable card slots, but don’t think it will work with sat. Please let me know if you have insights into what the linksys might be able to do that I’m missing…again, I see no where that it even suggests being able to run sat/cable thru it..thanks for any insight or suggestions on how to get HD sat thru a media center PC or vice versa.

  8. Joe, you’re missing the point of a Windows Media Center Extender. The only thing that connects to it is an Ethernet cable and a video/audio output. I have a CableCARD input for my main Media Center machine. It records all cable inputs in HD, including premium channels like HBO and Showtime. Those recorded programs are streamed to the extender.

    And yes, you’re right that you have to buy these digital tuners with the PC, at least currently. That will probably change in a year or so, but for now it’s an expensive and technically complex solution. However, it is the only one that allows a fully unified media playback experience throughout the house. (TiVo HD is the next best choice, but it falls way down on the music playback.)

  9. Ed, okay, that’s what I thought the linksys extender does, and it is very similar to some of the other products I listed in the 1st post…I got a little confused.

    Check out the Ziova extender/dvd player. It’s a pretty slick box, but I wasn’t thrilled with the silver exterior since all my a/v components are black…not a big deal since you can pretty much hide the Ziova.

    The Helios X5000 (pretty sure that’s the model) is also really nice, but a bit more expensive. Here are some of the internals of it “Wolfson DAC and BurrBrown OpAmp, a super-regulated R-core linear power supply, and a fine-tuned analogue audio output to get the best possible sound from digital music content.” I’ve auditioned this extender and it’s great with streamed music, not to mention other content.

    The only problem with a lot of the extenders (AppleTV being the exception, but I don’t really count this as a true media extender unless you do some hacking to it) is no H.264 support.

    I’d definitely recommend checking out some of the alternatives that are out there…and I’m interested to hear your opinion of the linksys.

    Quick question for you…I’m looking at building a HTPC to give as an Xmas gift. When I built my system there weren’t any motherboards that had HDMI onboard. I’ve been reading a few articles on building new HTPC’s and most are using motherboards with HDMI onboard. Not sure why this would be a good way to go since they are also using a video card to connect to the a/v system.

    To me, it seems like it would be better to just get a video card with that can also pass audio like some of the ATI cards can (not sure if Nvidia cards can pass audio over HDMI or not). Am I missing the point of also having HDMI on the motherboard…the only thing I can think it would be used for is to connect and HDMI source to the board, but I don’t see the benefit it that. Sorry to be off-topic, but I thought I’d ask since your seem very knowledgeable with HTPC’s.

    Thanks for the info and look forward to hearing your views of the linksys extender.

  10. Joe, your instincts are right on the money. A low-profile ATI card with HDMI audio support is probably your best for future-proofing at this point.

  11. Thanks for the pointers to the Helios and Ziova. I was underwhelmed by the interface they offered for music playback, which looks like a pretty bare file browser. They also won’t stream protected premium cable content, which is a deal-breaker for me. I’ll see if I can get a close-up look at CES.

  12. Hi Ed,

    You thought the Helios X5000 was lacking with music playback interface (the GUI) or the actual guts of the extender? From the model I auditioned, I thought both were pretty good compared to other extenders, but the $450-$500 price tag was too much for me.

    I’m a bit confused on where you are finding the exact specs for the Linksys models…I haven’t been able to find any definite info on them…and when you say none of the other extenders will allow you to stream protected premium cable content, I was under the impression from post #10 that you have a media pc with cable card slots as your input…so you shouldn’t have a problem sending anything that pc can receive/decode to an extender.

    Maybe I’m missing something again, but the linksys models don’t look more capable than others out there, and I still don’t understand why you think the Helios X5000 won’t accept 1080p premium cable content provided you’re using your cable card to get it to your pc.

    Again, using a DVB-S card has proved to provide the best picture quality I’ve found. Takes a lot of setting up, but once you have it working, it’s great. I also sub to the sat service, so I don’t consider this to be stealing the signal etc.

    I’m just a little unclear on your problem with streaming prem. cable thru the Helios or even some other ones out there.

  13. Joe, a Media Center system with digital cable tuners will stream recorded content only to an actual Media Center Extender such as an Xbox 360 or one of the new (still unreleased) v2 models. The content is protected and will not stream over a network any other way. If you try to open the recorded files from another computer or a generic network media player device, you will get an error.

    The same is true of TiVo or any other CableCARD device, AFAIK.

    So it’s not a matter of “thinking” that the Helios X5000 won’t be able to access the content, it’s knowing it.

    And yes, I thought the GUI for the Helios was lacking, based on the screen shots. As are most such devices, IMO, because basically, they just acting as clunky file browsers, whereas Media Center is using the same interface and index they use on the PC.

  14. Thanks for the info and link, Ed. I stream premium content to an Xbox 360 as well as my Ziova media extender, so I’m not extactly sure why you are certain it will not work…since it’s currently working for me. I’m using satellite vs. cable content though. I also know that the Helios X3000 works just as well as the 360 or Ziova (and I would assume the X5000 would also work).

    What sort of “protection” are you referring to when you speak of the premium cable content…are you talking HD content, premium channels like HBO etc, or what. I pretty up to date on current forms of content protection, and am a little unclear which kind of protection you are referring to that prevents one from streaming certain premium content on a network.

    I’d appreciate it if you could let me know what type of content protection you are referring to…JFYI, I can also stream to a normal xbox that has been hacked so I could install media center extender, and it works just as well as the Xbox 360 with all content…and was a lot cheaper.

  15. Joe, you admit that the DVB-S card “takes a lot of setting up,” and you concede the possibility that the satellite company might not consider it legal and might shut you down somehow, someday, right?

    I’m interested in easy, supported, fully legal and extensible solutions that will ultimately be affordable and deployable by average people, not just enthusiasts who are willing to live on the extreme edge.

    As for the DRM on the CableCARD files, you’re asking me to prove a negative. Can’t do that, so you show me someone, anyone, who has streamed CableCARD content from a Media Center PC to an extender other than an Xbox 360. And no, a hacked Xbox won’t work.

  16. I’m looking for a V2 MCE, the market is dead! The only solution i see is the xbox 360* which will not stream my HDcontent on the HTPC… I also want a nice interface like vista mce.

    Ed, have you found any solutions?

  17. Ed,

    Not trying to cause problems…I’m trying to learn also since it’s been a real issue with all these analogue tuners for pc that only get OA HD signals. I don’t use cable, thus I have no experience with cablecards.

    DVB-S cards are legal. Using one to get free satellite or cable if using a DVB-t card would be illegal. As a paid subscriber, there doesn’t seem to be anything illegal about using one to get the actual channels you pay for. It isn’t that difficult to set up…maybe takes 2hrs of reading online and an hour to run lines etc…and it is stable since I’m paying for the service…it would be different if I was pirating the signal. The only way a paid subscriber could be shutdown was if they ended their sub, or gave out their card info to someone else.

    Thanks for the info on cablecards…I’ve never used them before and had no idea of the protection employed w/ them as far as streaming content goes. I’ll be interested again to hear your results/impression of the linksys extender. Hope it does everything you want. Please let us know.

    Have a merry Xmas!

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