Given the high price of the MediaSmart Connect I’m assuming
that most reading this review will want to see some improvements in the Media
Center Extender function—and I think HP delivered pretty well on that.
While the Extender UI is a bit slow still, we have already
covered that it is based on the same Sigma 8622 chip that the Linksys and
D-Link are. However, HP adds a few
commonly requested features that the previous entries in the market lack. First, the HP MediaSmart Connect supports the
4th Zoom mode (non linear stretch) in Media Center. However, one random issue that needs more
testing is the video experiencing major fisheye-like effects when in the 4th
Zoom mode (I’ll look at this more later).
In addition the included HP universal remote has a closed caption toggle
button that actually works within Media Center. I also did not experience the auto-sensing
HDMI issues that I still have with the Linksys DMA series Extenders, but this
is another issue that I want to test in some other scenarios.
On the downside there still are no photo slideshow
animations given the slower processor, and using HDMI all audio is decoded and
output as 2-channel PCM which completely kills the experience. File format support looks pretty good, but
yet again MKV is still missing in the big picture.
Overall the rest of the Extender is exactly what you would expect. It might not be at the level of the Xbox 360 Extender yet, but to me it seems further along then D-Link or Linksys.
Note: MediaSmart UI file format support is covered in
If you can handle the high price, the HP MediaSmart Connect
is the best Extender outside of the Xbox 360 on the market (worth noting the Xbox 360 Extender only supports WMV and MPEG-2). The included universal remote, 4th
zoom mode, good file format support, and addition of the MediaSmart UI make it
a good choice for Media Center users and those just looking for a nicely
designed and functional media adaptor.
Overall I give the HP MediaSmart Connect x280n an 8/10. Give
me MKV support, fix the HDMI downmixing, and drop the price at least $100 and
HP could take the Extender market by storm.
Pros and Cons of the
HP MediaSmart Connect a (8/10)
solid design/build quality
setup and installation of MediaSmart
accessories (backlit remote, HDMI cable)
UI and local storage options
no MKV support
output has audio downmixing (I’m told SPDIF is always active, so run HDMI+SPDIF).
output WMV9 Pro as AC3
slow and clunky
- No SD