D-link DSM-510 media streamer review

4 out of 5
£160

For

Impressive streaming performance, very portable, range of content available through Viiv

Against

A tad uninspiring if you can't utilise Intel's service, minor interface and operation issues

Accompanying D-link's revised collection of media streamers is the compact and portable DSM-510, an Intel Viiv oriented media streamer designed to offer access to digital content through a wireless or wired network, local USB storage or Viiv's online media servers.

It's orientation towards Intel's service means that the 510 isn't nearly as adaptable as others in the range, such as the DSM-330 which offers more generic access to online content regardless of the hardware specification of your PC.

This pigeonholes the device somewhat, but we're not going to get too sidetracked by its requirements to begin with and decided to take a look at its capabilities as a conventional media streamer.

The 510 takes a bit of a no-nonsense approach, cutting straight to the chase by offering an HDMI port on the back or alternatively an A/V composite cable and Scart adaptor for older connectivity. You'll also find optical digital audio, and a full sized USB 2.0 port for connecting USB storage for local playback.

We were pretty impressed by its basic operation, the unit starts up quickly and once you've configured a server, which requires you to organise your digital collection via Windows Media Player 11, it connects quickly and offers fast access to your digital content. D-link uses a standard remote control across its new range, and while capable we've always found it a bit unresponsive and not overly well designed. This aside you'll find operation quite straightforward, and will find you have a pretty good degree of control over how your media is browsed, organised and played back.

One area in which the 510 excels is in its performance, namely the fast and consistent streaming of video, even 720p encoded high-resolution content, from a computer to your TV. We were very impressed by not only the speed at which it allows you to browse and play back files from your collection, but the responsiveness of playback controls: fast forward, rewind and pausing. Streamers often fall down in this area, particularly when you're talking about wirelessly streaming HD content, so we were pleasantly surprised to see this work so smoothly.

Format support and image quality are both very good, although you won't be able to handle full-quality 1080p resolutions. We tried a range of different files in an attempt to find out if the 510 would slip up, and aside from some more obscure formats found that in the majority of cases things went very smoothly.

Of course if you have a Viiv technology processor you'll find a range of additional features that includes content from partners such as ESPN, Yahoo, Napster and Virgin Records. With a growing list of supports, the platform gives the DSM-510 an impressive edge over many rivals in this market, particularly when you take into account its performance and adaptability as a streamer. Without this it does lose some appeal, but being reasonably priced and in offering such a portable solution it still gets credit for being a decent all-rounder.

Verdict

If you don't have Viiv support, and can cope with being tied into Windows Media Player 11, the DSM-510 offers a well designed and adaptable solution for streaming content around the home. If you can use it to its potential you'll find an impressive array of functionality built into one of the most compact units we've seen yet.