REVIEW: The Linksys MediaHub brings speed and easy upgrades.
I was recently given the opportunity to review the Linksys Media Hub Home Entertainment Storage with LCD (Model:NMH405) that is now available in Australia for AUS$700. Linksys was purchased by Cisco in 2003 and we are now starting to see some of the fruits of that merger as Linksys becomes the main drive of innovative products into the home network for the traditional enterprise company.
Whilst this high-end version of the Linksys’s media hub range is the costly bells and whistles version, the device is impressively fast as a media server. The problem with using standard desktop PCs as media sharing devices is that they are prone to other applications stealing away valuable processor time and which causes jerky playback of high end video or music streams to the client device.
Having a stand alone media hub means that everyone on the home network has direct access to the media at any time and it also serves as an extra backup facility.
The Linksys Media Hub is a gorgeous looking device and is very speedy with transferring large media files to the device as well as streaming high end videos to networked clients. I trialled a couple of full length DVD movies ripped at full resolution and the device didn’t miss a beat on playback even when a second stream was delivered from the device to another PC.
Admittedly, there are other options in the market to a dedicated media hub, such as network connected hard drives, but these devices are built for storage, not streaming videos or pictures quickly. These storage devices suffer another problem and that is they become superseded too quickly. A unique feature of the Linksys Media hub compared to dedicated hard drive units, is the user can easily upgrade the SATA hard drives within the system. The Linksys Media Hub comes with 2 SATA hard disk bays and the user can add another SATA drive for extra capacity. This gives the unit a greater life span, than those units that can’t be upgraded.
The Linksys Media Hub comes with software that assists you in managing your media via a PC networked to the system. As well as the software there is a robust web interface for other clients that do not use the software.
The other great feature I would have liked to try out, but couldn’t, was using the Linksys Media Hub with an XBOX360 using the UPnP protocol for streaming media. Unfortunately my Xbox360 suffered the red ring of death and was absent during the testing. This feature allows the user to stream media from the device to their Xbox360. I use this feature of the Xbox360 with DVDs that my daughter watches regularly. Ripping the movie only from DVDs removes unwanted advertising and difficult to use menu systems making it much easier for children to use the system and view their movies.
Upgrade for the firmware and software is easily accessible from the Australian Linksys website, but there was no firmware updates at the time of this review. There is also a fairly active user forum (http://forums.linksysbycisco.com/linksys/?category.id=MediaHub) that is great for peer-to-peer recommendations for setting up your media and ad-hoc support questions on the device.
Overall I was nervous at the high price of this unit compared to the competition, but the speed, easy upgradeability and the high quality of the unit easily makes up for it.
Posted By Shane Williamson