Zyxel DMA-1000 Media Streamer
Zyxel has recently expanded its portfolio of networking hardware with the DMA-1000 media streamer, a compact unit that apes the design of a typical router.
Considering the source, we’re a little surprised to see that there is no wireless option here. If high definition content is a priority you’ll most like be forced into the wired corner anyway, but we’d like to have seen it as an option.
As it is, you're restricted to hooking it up to a wired network or using a powerline solution like Devolo's homeplug.
The headline feature of the device is its support for high definition content up to 720p/1080i, to make this nice and straightforward we’re pleased to see an HDMI connection on the back along with more typical scart and component.
You'll find that on paper there's a pretty impressive degree of file compatibility here which includes WMV, AVI, XVID and MPEG1/2/4. It's pretty easy to set up and configure, after which you can install the provided software to select folders to share on your PC to access content from another room.
Unfortunately we noticed an irritating oversight here, for some strange reason the folder structure is removed when viewing folders and sub-folders from a PC. If you have large collections of files organised under an effective folder layout, this will be lost when browsing content through your TV.
This is only really a problem for video, since audio tracks are organised with a more traditional artist/album/genre view, but it does mean that the device can often be quite frustrating to use.
In terms of performance we were very impressed, with even HD content streaming very smoothly across the network. Fast forward and rewind functions are very responsive and there's a time skip feature which makes it easier to navigate larger video files.
Despite the wide range of file support we found that in practice there were some issues with playback of compressed video content, most probably down to the use of more obscure codecs and configurations. You'll also find there's no support for DRM encoded content, so files you download from online services such as Napster or the BBC iPlayer won't be supported.
VerdictZyxel has produced an appealing streamer in the DMA-1000, it's compact with impressive connectivity and some solid streaming.
Unfortunately the issues we've highlighted above do detract significantly from its overall performance and while they may not affect all users they're certainly worth taking into account before you buy.