ADS Tech Media-Link review: ADS Tech Media-Link

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CNET Editors' Rating

3 stars Good
  • Overall: 6.0
  • Design: 6.0
  • Features: 5.0
  • Performance: 7.0
Review Date:
Updated on:

The Good Streams music, photos, and video from networked PCs; supports standard and high-definition (HD) TV resolutions; component and DVI video outputs; optical and coaxial digital audio outputs; affordable.

The Bad Poor usability; lacks front-panel display and controls; doesn't display album artwork; not compatible with music purchased on the Internet; not Mac compatible.

The Bottom Line ADS Tech's Media-Link wireless digital media receiver isn't ready for prime time.

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ADS Tech Media-Link

ADS Tech's Media-Link wirelessly streams audio, video, and image files from your PC to your home entertainment system and has a built-in Web browser. Unlike some recently upgraded competitors, it doesn't support Rhapsody , a leading on-demand streaming music service, and can't play rights-managed music purchased from online music stores (Apple's iTunes Music Store, Napster, Musicmatch, and the like). But even if you don't care about those features, you can't get around the Media-Link's ($249) poor usability.

Some digital media receivers resemble home-theater gear, while others, such as the Media-Link, are styled more like a computer peripheral. Measuring in at 2 by 11.5 by 6.5 inches (HWD), the Media-Link is about the size of a typical network router. Because it has neither front-panel controls nor a text display, you have to switch on the TV and use the remote to navigate the interface. A recessed, translucent plastic strip spans the width of the front panel, masking network and power status indicators. The PCMCIA 802.11g wireless networking card that's supplied with the unit protrudes about one inch from the side panel.

Around back are optical and coaxial digital audio outputs as well as the requisite analog audio outputs. In addition to composite and S-Video ports, the unit has high-quality component and DVI jacks capable of outputting 480p video as well as 720p and 1080i resolutions for compatible HDTVs.

As long as you don't care about playing music purchased on the Internet or Windows Media Video files (WMV), the Media-Link's format support should be adequate. It plays MPEG-1, MPEG-2, MPEG-4, and DivX video files; MP3, AC3, WAV, and non-rights-managed WMA and AAC audio files; and JPEG, BMP, GIF, and PNG image files. Only iTunes playlists are compatible--assuming, of course, they're composed of self-ripped, non-DRM songs.

Currently, just a few competing digital media receivers (such as the D-Link DSM-320D and Roku's audio-only SoundBridge line) can play WMA files purchased on the Net. Meanwhile, only the Apple AirPort Express can play AAC files procured from the iTunes Music Store. Numerous models support Rhapsody.

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Where to Buy

ADS Tech Media-Link

Part Number: MXL-581 Released: Nov 15, 2004
Pricing is currently unavailable.

Quick Specifications See All

  • Release date Nov 15, 2004
  • Connectivity Protocols IEEE 802.3u (Fast Ethernet)
  • Type remote control
  • Functionality digital photo playback
  • Type none
  • Output Mode stereo
  • Type digital multimedia receiver