Fresh off the heels of a major upgrade, D-Link's MediaLounge DSM-320 is among the first digital-media receivers capable of wirelessly streaming rights-managed (DRM) audio files, such as those purchased from Napster, from your PC to your home stereo. Like many other digital media receivers, the DSM-320 (around £150 online) also plays video and image files.
Unfortunately, with at least one router, wireless networking issues periodically stopped this dream machine in its tracks. That significant caveat aside, the versatile DSM-320 is among the best digital-media receivers we have tested.
Measuring 287 by 38 by 427mm, the DSM-320 has a similar form factor to a home-cinema component, such as a DVD player. In contrast to digital-media receivers styled more like computer gear, the DSM-320 will easily blend into a home-cinema rack. The device is entirely silver-grey except for a translucent, black plastic strip that spans the width of the front panel, covering a couple of blue status LEDs.
With the exception of a power button, the front panel is devoid of controls -- you must operate the DSM-320 with the remote (a bummer if you lose it). Because there's no front-panel text display, you'll have to switch on the TV to navigate the device -- that's annoying if you just want to listen to music. Another drawback: the DSM-320 doesn't display album art.
The midsize remote has a full array of buttons, including the requisite four-way keypad plus Music, Photo, Video and Online media buttons that shortcut to the primary media navigation screens. Although the remote has Page Up and Page Down buttons, scrolling through long track lists can be sluggish. What's more, even though the remote has an alphanumeric keypad, you can't simply jump to a file by pressing the first letter of its name -- instead you must press Search to open a dedicated search screen. Otherwise, the TV-based interface is generally clean and fairly easy to navigate.
Two separate PC applications can be used to stream files to the DSM-320 from your hard drive. Windows XP users with the Service Pack 2 upgrade can use Windows Media Connect (a free download) instead of D-Link's Media Server application, which isn't compatible with rights-managed WMA files. We recommend choosing one or the other, however, as simultaneously running both makes using the DSM-320 more of a hassle.
Using the Windows Media Connect server with the DSM-320, you can play MP3, WMA (rights-managed and non-rights-managed) and WAV audio files; MPEG-1, MPEG-2 and MPEG-4 video files; JPEG, BMP, PNG, TIFF and GIF image files. The DSM-320 doesn't support Windows Media Video (WMV) files, nor can it play protected AAC files purchased from the iTunes Music Store. Although the Windows Media Connect server is documented as supporting only WPL (Windows Media Player format) playlists, we were also able to play M3U (Musicmatch, aka Yahoo Music) playlists with it. It's also worth noting that AOL Internet Radio is supported.