Networking companies are beginning to deliver the new Vista-friendly Media Center Extenders that Microsoft outlined earlier this month. D-Link's entry in the race is the DSM-750. Like competing models, the DSM-750 attaches to a TV (standard or high-def) and streams live and recorded TV, video, music, and photos from networked Media Center PCs located elsewhere in the home. An update of the older DSM-520, the 2007 model adds dual-band 802.11n wireless (which has the speed and bandwidth for optimal streaming of HD video) as well as compatibility with the popular DivX and XviD video file formats. Unlike similarly equipped products from rival Linksys, however, the DSM-750 will also offer access to active-TV, a service that provides access to more than 200 "channels" of on-demand Internet video content, including free (ESPN, YouTube, AOL Video) and premium (CinemaNow, MovieLink) services. (Owners of the DSM-520 will also get active-TV access, thanks to a forthcoming free firmware upgrade.)
The wireless-N speeds and active-TV content are a nice step up for the D-Link streamer, but the DSM-750 will have its work cut out for it, thanks to a whopping $350 price tag. That's the same cost as a 20GB Xbox 360. The Microsoft game console doesn't have built-in wireless, but it, too, can double as a full-fledged HD Media Center Extender. And unlike the D-Link, it can also play games (Halo 3, anyone?), DVD movies, and HD video downloads from Xbox Live Marketplace. The D-Link will go head-to-head with the Xbox and Media Center Extenders from rival manufacturers when it goes on sale in November.