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Extending the link between PC and TV


It’s never easy to have to think ahead to the post-holiday season, especially when the bulk of holiday shopping has yet to take place. But as consumers flock to stores over the next two weeks, loading up on new tech gadgets (particularly computers and HDTVs, the devices cited as the top two consumer wishes this year, according to the Consumer Electronics Association), many will likely overlook an item that has become a growing need in the home hardware arsenal: the media extender, otherwise known as a media storage device that facilitates the transfer of content from a PC to a TV.

The reason they’ll overlook it is simple. No one bothered to tell them that very few, if any, of today’s HDTVs (despite all of their bells and whistles) are equipped to receive and playback a consumer’s high-definition video downloads. Instead, most consumers have resorted to a very low-tech alternative, namely copying files to CDs or other portable storage devices, and walking them into the living room and loading them into the TV’s digital in-port, for those lucky enough to have a TV that can do that.

Fortunately for the rest of consumers, a new generation of media extenders, such as the D-Link MediaLounge, the LinkSys WMCE54AG, the ADS Media Link or the Pegasus Cynalynx—to name just a few—are helping bridge the gap between PC and TV. But few offer as many solutions as the MediaGate MG 350 HD.

As part of the full MG line of extenders launched at last year’s CES, the MG 350 HD has enjoyed critical acclaim as a low-cost, all-inclusive product “perfect for downloading high-definition movies.” Undoubtedly, that has something to do with its many features, which include 802.11g wireless connectivity, a 10/100 LAN Ethernet port and a Sigma Design EM8621 chip, for starters. The device can play back up to 1920?1080p and supports multiple file types, including MPEG-4 and MPEG-2 for audio, as well as JPEG, BMP and PNG for photos.

Other great features are its fully functional, intuitive remote control; its support of composite, S-video and component video outputs; and its ability to play media files from its internal hard drive. If there’s a downside to the MG-350 HD, it’s that the device requires a separate hard drive installation (a major obstacle for the non-DIYer) and that setup can be a challenge, further complicated by its cryptic user manual.

All in all, though, the MG-350 HD fills the void in the PC-to-TV content chain that consumers invariably will be clamoring for come mid-January.

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