We've been waiting years for a streaming media device that actually works, but now we think we've found one. Linksys recently sent us its Media Center Extender 2200 -- and shock of all shocks -- it doesn't suck. Quite the opposite, in fact.
It's designed to turn your TV into an access point for the media on your PC. Any movies, music, photos or live TV on your Media Center computer can be enjoyed on your telly in another room over a wired or wireless 802.11a/b/g/n network. The 2200 model (bottom) also has a built-in DVD player that can upscale ordinary DVDs to 720p, 1080i or 1080p.
Our experience with it has been very positive. We've only tested it over a wired Ethernet connection so far but we had it spewing HD media from PC to TV with the minimum of fuss, and it showed absolutely no sign of struggling. Fingers crossed the wireless performance over 802.11n will be as impressive.
It packs HDMI 1.2 with HDCP connectivity, Scart, S-Video, component and composite video outputs. It also supports MPEG 1 & 2, WMV9, H.264 and XviD video formats, plus PCM, MP3, Dolby Digital AC-3, WMA and WMA Pro audio. That's hardly the most comprehensive list but we won't complain seeing as the thing actually does what it promises.
The 2200 will retail for £239, which is a bit pricey considering the Xbox 360 costs the same and lets you play next-gen games. Still, there's always the option to buy the £199 Linksys MCE 2100, which is essentially the MCE 2200 minus a DVD playback feature. Watch for a full review shortly. -Rory Reid
Update: Read our full.