At first glance, the LinkTheater looks like any other high-end DVD player that you might have in your entertainment center, using a standard 17 inch form-factor that fits right in with other components. I really liked the "stereo" component form-factor, since other products I have been testing always had a bit of an awkward or precarious fit. The only visual clue that distinguished the unit from a standard DVD player was a front panel USB port, and an Ethernet jack on the rear.
The LinkTheater outputs both standard definition (480p) and HDTV in both 720p and 1080i formats and both Dolby 5.1 and DTS audio. Along with its DVD player, the product includes an impressive list of supported media formats as part of its media player credentials:
Still-image: GIF, JPEG, JPEG2000, PNG, BMP, and TIF
Video: AVI, DAT, MPEG 1, MPEG 2, MPEG 4, DivX, Xvid, WMV, WMV 9, DivX HD, WMV HD, VOB, ASF
Audio: MP3, WMA, WAV, OGG Vorbis, AIFF, PLS, M3U
NOTE: The above is just an overview of supported formats. If you really need to know nitty-gritty details of the formats supported before you buy, I suggest you download the User Manual (PDF) and read the "High-Definition Info" and "Technical Specifications" sections. The specs in particular detail the video frame and bit rates supported.
Figure 1 shows the LinkTheater's complement of output connectors, which include standard S video and composite A/V ports, as well as optical audio, component Y, Pb and Pr and a Japanese D4 video connector. What it doesn't have, however, are HDMI or DVI-HDCP connectors that provide direct digital connection to similarly equipped HD displays. You'll see the significance of this omission shortly.
Figure 1: LinkTheater back panel connectors
(click image to enlarge)
Also of note is that you can attach an external antenna (using Buffalo's standard MC connector) in case you have problems getting a reliable wireless connection with the LinkTheater's internal dual dipoles.
For the bundled server software, right now you'll need to have a computer running Windows 98, ME, 2000 or XP. But a Buffalo support engineer active in the on-line forums states that Macintosh OSX and Linux versions are in the works.