Hands On New Cisco Linksys Wireless-N Media Center Extenders (Plus: Tasty New N-Friendly Toys)

LinksysMediaExtender.jpgYou may have heard about the new Media Center Extenders from Cisco's Linksys division. The DMA2200 shown above is a high-def MCE with 1080p-upscaling DVD player and Dual-Band Wireless-N, priced at $350. The smaller $300 DMA2100 MCE is geared for bedrooms and kitchens, places where you're going to want less clutter, though to be honest, the built-in DVD player is quite the clutter-reducer all by itself.

Both MCE devices require Vista-based Media Center PCs, which means nearly every PC running Vista. One of the best things about the new interface, which looks almost exactly like the Vista MC interface, is that you can actually browse through the DVR schedule and order up shows to watch. It means you can really leave your big ugly PC in the den, but use all of its Media Center functions when you're on your couch. This wasn't really possible before, and especially not in high-def.Besides the Wireless-N ability to stream HD throughout the house, the beauty of Linksys' dual-band system is that both the high-def video and your ordinary average applications can share the air, without one elbowing the other out of the way (or without one forcing the whole system to a crappier bandwidth).

Both MCEs will be available by the end of the year—you can easily guess which one I'm lining up for. But that wasn't all that the Linksys team had on hand when I paid them a visit. There's a new camera and a pretty insane router, and a previously released NAS product, all which fit nicely in a home-network ecosystem with the MCEs. I don't think Linksys wanted me to spill the beans on the router and camera just yet, but they did let me take some pictures. Have a look—it's good stuff.


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