New toy: Gateway's Connected DVD. (Just for researching fun, since I'm too poor for a new toy.)

Here's my first impression: nice, but ugly. It's loaded in capabilities: plays SVCDs and CDR/CDRW, lots of audio outs, and takes almost every connection as input. The user manual shows that you create audio playlists on the PC, which you can pick from the DVD (like a radio station); but you have to import all the files that you want to have available via DVD player.

Major problem is that it only plays MPEG1 and MPEG2 video formats, no MPEG4 decoder. This means that the DivX and XviD files (which most downloadable movies are in) will be unplayable on this DVD player. This would have been the most compelling reason to purchase (for me), and was the single roadblock that discouraged a friend from buying it (before he realized that they're out of stock already anyway).

I'm not TOO impressed with the user interface (or rather, discontinuous behaviour necessary of the user), but I'm not sure how I would make it any better.

I suppose I would like to be able to "(Windows) Explore" the PC's HD and pick a file, and the PC (or some Gateway utility) would recognize it as being accessed (over LAN/WLAN) by the DVD player. Then, when the file is clicked (and is an appropriate format), the PC will uses whatever plug-in / app associated and runs it. Except instead of playing to the PC screen, it will pipe the output to the DVD player automatically, and gives the DVD player manipulating control (video settings, audio settings, play/pause/fwd/rwd/stop). Essentially, it's like remote admin for media playing, and eliminates the need for this importing non-sense.

I would probably also wait for 802.11g or higher throughput (unless PC is on wired Ethernet) because I don't know how taxing this is on the bandwidth.

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