TV & Home Cinema

By August 20, 2008 Read More →

D-Link DSM-330 DivX Connected HD Media Player Review

D-Link is well known for their networking products, and this device is certainly an extension of that.

As you can see from the images the DSM-330 looks a lot like a router and in lots of ways that’s exactly what it is.

It allows you to view you digital media without having to be in front of your PC. You can view movies, photos and play MP3’s remotely.

The quick explanation of how it works is that you install software on a PC with your media on it and then that is shared over the network (either wired or wireless) to the DSM-330, which in turn is connected to your TV.


D-Link DSM-330

D-Link DSM-330 Specification:

Supported Media Formats

  • DivX
  • Xvid with MP3 or PCM audio
  • WMV9 (transcoded on PC)
  • MP3 (up to 320kbps)
  • MP3 Playlist
  • WMA (transcoded on PC)
  • JPEG (grayscale, RGB & YCbCy only)
  • JPEG 2000
  • BMP (non-compressed)


Because the box uses a PC as a source for the media itself, there are specifications for that PC.

Minimum System Requirements
(for Standard Definition) May require a graphics driver update

  • 1.6 GHz processor
  • Windows Vista® or Windows® XP
  • 60 MB HDD space
  • 512 MB system RAM
  • OpenGL-enabled video card

Recommended System Requirements
(for High Definition) May require a graphics driver update

  • 2.6 GHz processor
  • Windows Vista® or Windows® XP
  • 60 MB HDD space
  • 1 GB system RAM
  • Hardware-accelerated OpenGL-enabled video card


A Wired or 802.11g wireless network (Wired connection recommended)

And for the internet video functionality you will need a broadband connection.

What’s in the box?

  • The DSM-330 box itself
  • A/V composite cable
  • SCART to SCART cable
  • HDMI cable
  • CAT-5 ethernet cable
  • Software CD
  • Power cord with AC adapter
  • Wireless antenna
  • Remote control
  • 2 AAA batteries for the remote
  • Quick Setup guides in English, French and German

The main manual is on the CD along with the software


First let’s have a quick rundown of how it all works.

The DSM-330 box is a client that displays on the attached TV.

So the first thing you do is install the included server software on the PC. Once installed, you tell the software which folders you want to share for your videos, mp3’s and photos. You can even add PIN codes for folders if you want some of them to be protected. This server software then sits as a tray icon and runs in the background.

This PC needs to be connected to your local network (either with a direct cable or else wirelessly). It should be noted that as you are going to be pushing your media over the network that the speed of the network will directly affect the results you are going to get.

The DSM-330 box itself connects to your TV. There are quite a few connections on the back so you should be able to find a connector to suit your needs 😀


D-Link DSM-330 back view (click to enlarge)

From left to right

  • wireless aerial connector
  • HDMI
  • S/PDIF (Coax and Optical)
  • S-Video
  • Component Video
  • Audio Left/Right
  • CAT-5 connector
  • Power connector


D-Link DSM-330 remote

Now to connect the box to the network.

If you are going to be using the box over your wired network, then obviously you connect it with the CAT-5 connector – if you are connecting wirelessly, just screw on the antenna.

So now you power up the box.

It will take you through some first setup screens – these will tell the box the type of TV you are connecting to and allow you to resize and shift the screen location. It will also take you through the setup of any wireless network keys.

At this point if you are running a firewall on your PC, you need to make sure that it allows the connection from the DSM-330.

Assuming that the connections are all correct, the server software on the PC will show the box is connected, and the box itself will show it’s interface to your shared media.

If everything has gone smoothly then you are all done – all the controls you need are on the supplied remote control.


In the interest of full disclosure I’ve actually ended up doing two reviews of this product.

The first review

The box was connected to a Sony Bravia TV with the supplied HDMI cable, and everything was setup and installed on the PC side. The box correctly detected the HDMI settings and everything appeared to be fine with the setup.

After the initial setup the box dropped into it’s main menu and it was here that things were a little strange. It appeared that everything was being displayed in just 256 colours. Video playback appeared to be fine, but then with a moving picture it’s kind of hard to tell, but when viewing photos or the menus it was obvious things were a little strange.

I went through the setup menus again looking for what I’d done wrong, and here is where things started to get a little strange – the menus went green :S, and despite resets I couldn’t get things to work properly.

So I went onto the D-Link support site and there was mention of this very problem. So I downloaded the latest firmware patch (A procedure which seems the only reason for the ugly USB connection on the front of the box), installed the firmware and reset the box.


D-Link DSM-330 front view

Things were back in colour again, but still with the reduced palette – and now no sound through the HDMI connection.


After various resets and full setups I was no better off. So I decided to use a different connection to the TV, figuring that the HDMI bug would probably be fixed in a future firmware release (though I’d obviously still have mentioned it here).

And here is where I found some other quirks with the DSM-330.

SCART seemed the next easiest option with the connections I had on the TV. So I connected the cable up and went into the TV setup on the box again.

I told it I was using a standard TV and it detected as 576i (correct here in the UK) but as 4:3 ratio ( the TV is widescreen ) and I can’t find a way to alter this.

And on top of this the colours were still with a limited palette and the image was centered in the middle of the widescreen. (Yes I can tell the TV to stretch this up to fill the screen for widescreen movies, this does however lower the resolution of the image, and also means that you can’t see the menus fully with scaling on. So you’d need to be forever changing the settings on the TV).

On top of this the menu’s were very, very sluggish – adding even more frustration.

So at this point I had less than glowing things to say about the DSM-330, it didn’t actually seem to do anything very well.

The second review

Because I’m stubborn I wasn’t going to give up there, and the following day I started from scratch with a different PC as the server – and reconnected the DSM-330 with an HDMI connection.

Things were a lot different this time around.

I suddenly had full colours and everything was moving a lot faster – it was like I had a completely different box in front of me.

So I had a curiosity here. On one PC things were perfect and on the other, things were lousy (and yes both PC’s are of a high enough specification to run the server software).

On a read of the manual (I really was that stuck) I saw that they suggested the updating of graphics card drivers. Now lots of software suggests this, and it is rarely needed. But in this case it made the difference.

On the original problem PC, but with new drivers installed, I had full colours from this machine as well, but things were still very sluggish, and then I realised why – I had this PC connecting to my network wirelessly and the DSM-330 was also using wireless – the result being that the lag was purely down to using wireless connections in both directions. A direct cable connection on either one fixed the problem. Though this obviously does bring up the reality that the setup is network speed dependant.

I’d just like to say that this was entirely my fault for not believing the manual on both counts.

So not only read the manual, but believe the manual 😀

Once things were up and running properly, the box did exactly what it is designed to do – videos were upscaled and played back smoothly, photos were scaled down and MP3’s were streamed perfectly. Internet videos were smooth, though this is obviously dependant on your connection speed.

In general the box has all the functions that you’d expect.

Videos playback can the fast forwarded, rewound, paused etc. You can quick jump to what D-Link call it a ‘virtual chapter’ with the numbers on the remote. You can tell it to play all videos in a folder.

One really useful feature of the video playback is that if you come out of a video then you can resume it from the same point later on, even if you’ve played back other videos since.

Photo’s can be zoomed and scrolled around, and you can setup a slideshow with the contents of a folder.

MP3 playback is basic and there are no visualisations, but it does allow you to set some MP3’s playing, and then setup a slideshow with the music continuing in the background.

If your server PC is connected to the internet then you can use the plugin ability of the DSM-330. These are relatively simple little web widgets that can do things like viewing google earth, show online comics, a flickr browser, etc. And obviously with a firmware updatable box such as this, these plugins may become even more complex in their functionality.

The DSM-330 box also supports interface themes. This allows people to design new icons and backgrounds for the interface. There are several on the DIVX site already, and the kit and instructions are there for people to make their own.

The remote itself came to frustrate me a little as I didn’t think that it’s layout was particularly well thought out. The actual software on the box didn’t help this and I sometimes found myself guessing the functionality of a button as it would do different things according to where I was in the menus or what playback I was using.


  • the ability to browse your videos and photos from the lounge is very nice
  • extendibility could offer some interesting possibilities in the future


  • dependant on the setup of your server PC and your network speeds
  • non HDMI connections don’t appear to support widescreen televisions [may be fixed in future firmware – see update below]
  • remote could do with a rethink to be truly ‘invisible’ to the user



I think it would be fair to say that this is something of a niche market product. For starters in order to use it at all you have to have a windows PC that you can run the server software and you need to have a network setup in your house – be it wired or wireless. You also really need to understand your network setup, your firewall setup and your PC graphics drivers. This is not quite a simple plug and play device.

My experience with the box (once everything was working and I was on an HDMI TV) was generally good.

The remote was a little frustrating at times, but that’s partially because of the fact that the box is capable of doing so many things. How do you make a remote for a box that handle video, image and web widgets in a way that is usable.

The big problem for me is the lack of support for widescreen PAL TV’s with a SCART connection. This is something that may be fixed in future firmware updates, and certainly it’s something that has been mentioned in their forums.

For HDMI connections tho the DSM-330 functions as you’d expect.

I think the query for lots of potential customers is wether to get something like the DSM-330 or wether to use install Windows Media Center on the PC in the first place. Both scenarios will require a PC and require you to know how to set these things up.

The main advantage of using the DSM-330 is that if you want to have another DSM-330 somewhere else in the house then you can connect it to the same server – and the server PC can still do other things (though obviously the more DSM-330’s you attach the more demand it will place on your server PC and network traffic). This obviously works out cheaper than building lots Media Center PC’s.


UPDATE [August 21 2008]
The people over at DivX kindly sent me a beta version of some upcoming firmware to try out. Whilst I’m sure there are lots of changes under the hood (for example, I noticed that the sound options have been extended), the main one from my point of view is the addition of an Advanced option in the display settings. This adds a list of display modes for you to select from manually – and includes the PAL Widescreen support for non HDMI connections that I was after. I’m not sure when this is going to become a released firmware, but well done to the guys at DivX.

Review by: Iain

Posted in: TV & Home Cinema
By January 11, 2008 Read More →

Logic3 SoundStage 5.1 speaker system review

Logic3 TX101B – SoundStage 5.1 Speaker System


Logic3 Plc was founded in 1977. In 1983 it began distribution of Video Game and PC Controllers and Accessories. In 1998, the company was incorporated as SpectraVideo plc. Today, Logic3 plc is firmly established as one of the worlds largest Video Game Accessory companies, with sales of exclusive brands such as Logic 3, ScreenBeat and TopDrive, into over 30 countries, including Europe, USA, Australia and the Far East. Within these brands they sell everything from HDMI cables to speakers for your iPod. They have now branched into the world surround sound, but have they cracked it?

Logic3 SoundStage 5.1


  • 5.1 Speaker system
  • Remote Control
  • Manual
  • FM Aerial
  • Coaxial Cable
  • Optical Cables
  • 2 x Wall mounting brackets (finally, wall mounts that are included)


The most important thing to remember is that this is not your normal 5.1 surround sound system. All the sound comes from the one box so you will never get the true feeling of the footsteps approaching from behind or the bullets zooming over your head. This box is designed to hang on your wall under your plasma or LCD screen with your wires hidden and to still blow your socks off.

The Soundstage system is quite large, just over 100cm and cased in a very neat and well made black chassis. You can opt to have the speaker cover on to hide the speakers or off to show them in all their glory, but I have no idea why you would want to hide them. There are 15 speakers and these pump out bass like you wouldn’t believe.

On the front there is a small LED display that shows the volume, and displays the FM channels for the integrated radio and the IR sensor. There is also a standby, input and volume buttons. These are very neatly built into the design and from a short distance you can on see the LED display.

On the left hand side there is a proper power switch meaning you don’t waste electricity on standby mode.

On the rear of the SoundStage is where all the cables are plugged in, you have inputs for 2 x Optical, 2x Coaxial, an aux right and left, with a FM Antenna socket to finish up with.


  • No cables
  • Very short set up time
  • Wall mounts included
  • Looks great on a wall
  • Excellent sound


  • Never quite get the real feel of surround sound
  • Useless manual
  • Needs a lot of setting changes to get the best sound from this unit
  • Tacky looking remote control


Logic3 SoundStage 5.1 REVIEW

Unpacking and setting up the SoundStage could not be any simpler. Not sure how many of you have ever set up a surround sound system, all the speakers, stands and cables just get everywhere, the SoundStage is wonderfully different. It took about 5 minutes to set up even with a disagreement with my father in law. Take the unit out of the packaging, find the RCA cables (or optical whichever you are using). The trickiest bit is if your TV is wall mounted, you might need a friend to help you take it off the wall, my father in law was round and after arguing with him that the connector on the side was input and not output he finally agreed and helped me take the TV off the wall. I used the RCA connections and not the optical, plugged these in the TV output and then placed the TV back on the wall. I had placed the speaker on the coffee table and not on the wall, plugged the power cable in and also fed the cables from the TV through the wall trunking to get the full affect of having no cables at all. If you where to mount this on the wall, you could place it directly under the TV and would only have to worry about hiding the power cable.

Logic3 SoundStage 5.1

The tower speakers look good with or without the cover but the unit looks 100 times better without, this isn’t just my opinion, even my partner said it looked nicer.

I flicked the power switch on the side and started to test the unit, immediately I was met by a scream from the kitchen to turn it down, I love this unit already. A while later when I had the house to myself I thought I would test it properly. I started off watching Die Hard 4.0, I have watched this film about 4 times now so know which parts in the film would push the unit. The two sections I wanted to test both involve the plane. First was when the plane does a fly by, the rumble that came out the speakers was a little over powering to say the least so using the remote control I turned the bass down (more on the remote later). Replayed the fly by and it sounded great, the noise of the plane going from left to right was perfect although there was no sound coming from behind so you didn’t get the full feeling of the plane flying into the distance. The second was the plane shooting the truck. I replayed this a lot muting the TV and also muting the SoundStage, this was definitely better with the Soundstage providing the main bass noise and with the TV providing an extra boost. It made my Die Hard experience a whole lot better but I still felt I was missing something.

I then moved onto the music channels, you can always connect the unit up to your stereo if you want or use the integrated FM tuner. When listening to music you know that all 15 speakers are working to full capacity. I listened to all sorts of music, dance, R&B, Hip hop and even some pop. They sound quality was again excellent and after turning the volume up I realized it was a good idea to wait until I was alone. The bass coming from the unit was outstanding and I was very impressed with the music quality, again I had still had the TV providing some of the sound as this did make the sound better.

The unit has a built in FM radio which is a nice feature but with the 100’s of music channels on Sky and other digital providers I’m not sure how much use the radio would get.

This is the test I had been waiting for. Trying a couple of games on my Xbox 360, the games I was going to test where Forza 2 Motorsport and Call Of Duty 4 : Modern Warfare…. Think I had better wait until I have the house to myself again.

I started off testing the Logic3 SoundStage 5.1 using Forza 2, just a quick race I thought, 30 minutes later I realized how much better my Mclaren F1 sounded, I had picked the Silverstone International Track. The real sounds you notice are the engine noise and road noise, I was keen to see what the other cars sounded like overtaking me. So I slowed down to allow a few to pass, I could here the rumble as they approached but without the sound coming from behind me it was impossible to tell which side they where going to overtake.
Next I tried Call of Duty 4, I started the game and allowed the trailer to play, it sounded that good that I wanted to watch it again. I quickly ran through the training and was then playing the first mission, which was located on a ship. During the game I noticed more of an atmosphere with the SoundStage on, the rain sounded better and so did the grenades. I had to turn it down at one point when some flash bangs where being used as they where starting to have the full effect on me. Im not sure if this unit was designed for games but it works really well.

I have to make a quick mention of the remote for two reasons, firstly because it has 32 buttons to play with and because I think it looks a little tacky for a unit that costs £200, see what you think.


An entire 5.1 surround sound system in one box, does it work? Well yes and no.

I love everything about the SoundStage, the style of it, the build quality and the sound it pumps out. For a single unit it does an excellent impersonation of being a 5.1 speaker system but in the end it is only one unit not 5. The SoundStage cannot provide the sound of a person walking up behind you or the sound of a car coming up behind you starting to overtake and then disappearing into the distance.

However saying that, not everyone wants cables trailing around their front room and some ugly speakers standing on tripods in each corner of the room. They want an attractive unit they can mount on the wall so there friends look at it and go ‘wow’, this is that unit.

If you are looking for a great sounding, well built and attractive single surround sound unit then this is the one for you.

Review By: Russell

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By November 2, 2007 Read More →

Polaroid launch new range of LCD TV’s

Last night we attended a press event with Polaroid where we were introduced to their new Definia range of premium LCD TV’s

I think that most people will be familiar with the Polaroid name but for most of us, myself included, the name conjures up images of instamatic cameras housed in grey plastic boxes. Few of us would make the connection between Polaroid and LCD TV’s.

However, like myself, you may not have been aware of the fact that Edwin H. Land, founder of Polaroid, invented the polarising filters that are essential to LCD technology and that are present in every LCD product made. So, based on the trivia, Polaroid certainly have the ‘right’ to be part of this market and have some impressive sales figures to prove it.

Polaroid are already ranked number 5 in LCD TVshipments in North America and #10 in Europe. They are also #7 ranked brand in all video and imaging worldwide.

In actual fact Polaroid have been selling LCD TV’s here in the UK for just over a year and their TLU range has been selling exceptionally well on the high street, to the point where they cant make enough of them!

Enter the Polaroid Definia. Available in 32″, 37″ or 42″ varieties, the Definia is the name of the premium range of LCD TV’s that Polaroid released on sale just last week. Last night gave us the chance to get hands-on with the products and see what they were capable of.

Polaroid Definia TV

Polaroid Definia

Polaroid have thrown away all preconceived manufacturing ideas and concepts with the Definia range and really invested time and research into what the customer wants and needs from an LCD TV. The thing that first strikes you when looking at the Definia is that unlike almost ever other LCD and Plasma TV out there the frame surrounding the screen isn’t a high gloss plastic but is a semi-matt finish. While this seems a little strange to begin with it does give the unit a classy look and feel. However, there is a better reason for doing this: Glossy frames cause reflection and glare which distract you from the viewing experience. When this was demonstrated in a dimly lit room with lights outside it becomes clear that this was definitely a wise decision. The matt finish also means that fingerprints don’t show – great news for parents!

Polaroid have also put a lot of effort in to the speaker bar included with the Definia. Typically LCD TV’s have rather poor internal speakers. This is because the slim cabinet design of an LCD limits the size and type of speaker that can be utilised. Polaroid have addressed this by using very high quality air suspended loudspeaker units. These are the same type that you would find in fairly high-end HiFi equipment.

Also on the audio side is the AVC (Automatic Volume Control). This normalises the volume level and stops you getting deafened by those irritating commercials between programmes!

Polaroid Definia

Polaroid Definia

The Definia range also boasts a number of features that you would typically expect to find only on high-end LCD’s. For example you get 2 HDMI sockets, a raft of Scart sockets, component sockets, digital optical in and out connections and also a CI slot on the rear which will accept smartcard readers for pay per view services as and when they become available.

The Eco-aware among us will be pleased to see that the Definia also includes a proper and easily accessible on/off switch which means that you don’t have to leave the unit in standby.

I have to say that, although we were only able to get hands on with the 32″ Definia for a short time, I was rather impressed. This is an HD ready display, has a good contrast ratio and brightness and the sound quality is truly brilliant from such small speakers. Frankly, the Definia puts my two year old top-of-the-range plasma TV to shame!

If you are looking for a new LCD TV then the Polaroid Definia is definitely worth a closer look, especially when you consider that the 32″ Definia costs under £500, the same price that you would expect to pay for mediocre, no-name LCD’s on the high street.

Polaroid Definia TV Specification:

  • Resolution: 1336 x 768
  • Brightness: 500 cd/m2
  • Contrast Ratio: 1000:1
  • Response Time: 8 ms
  • Viewing Angle: 170 x 170
  • 16:9 Widescreen Aspect Ratio
  • 2HDMI inputs
  • 3D Comb filter with motion adaptation
  • Picture-in-Picture (PIP)
  • Wide-Range Stereo Speakers
  • Detachable Speakers with Dedicated Subwoofer Output
  • 2 SCART inputs
  • Component video input (YPbPr)
  • S-Video input
  • Composite video input
  • Coaxial RF input
  • VGA (D-sub) input
  • CI slot
  • Audio inputs
  • Composite A/V output
  • Optical SPDIF output
  • With TV Stands & Speakers 722.5 x 947 x 240mm (HxWxD), 30.5kg

You can find out more about Polaroid and the Definia range on the dedicated website launched today:

We are hoping to bring you a detailed review of one of Polaroid’s Definia LCD TV’s in the near future but also keep your eyes peeled for news on other Polaroid products coming soon!

EDIT: Our 37″ Definia review is now online HERE.

Posted by: Matt

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Posted in: TV & Home Cinema