We've seen plenty of network-connected streamers over the last few months, most of which rely in some degree on Windows Media Center for content. This wouldn't be such an issue if Media Center would just play nicely with third-party devices.
These "extenders," like the Linksys DMA2200, gave us an inconsistent stream with unreliable picture quality regardless of our connection strength. On the other hand, the Seagate FreeAgent Theater HD wasn't able to play as many file types as we would have liked.
It is with the Digital Entertainer Elite that we've found the best of both worlds: a media receiver that doesn't rely on Windows Media Center and a device that can handle almost any file format you throw at it. The Elite isn't necessarily for everyone, though--in fact, we'd probably recommend it only to that crowd of do-it-yourselfers who are fluent in the ins and outs of audio and video formats.
The Elite is priced around $400 and, while you won't have the added luxury of Netflix or Amazon Video on Demand, there are plenty of extra features that may justify its purchase, including a removable and user-replaceable 500GB full review to see if it's right for you.. Read our