The media streaming market has been surprisingly quiet over the last couple of months, and it seems that few manufacturers are looking to build upon and compete with excellent new entries like the NetGear EVA9150 Digital Entertainer Elite.
Memory supplier Dane-Elec is certainly not targeting the high-end market with its strangely named SO G-Stream, but from the spec-sheet it does seem like a worthy contender for entry-level users.
The slim, black-metallic exterior is ruined slightly by a rather cumbersome wireless antenna offering 802.11g connectivity, but we were generally quite pleased by the diminutive design. There’s an HDMI port for up to 1080i video output, 10/100Mbps Ethernet, two USB ports for connecting devices for local storage and a 3-in-1 memory card reader for easy access to photos and other media.
Setup and operation is straightforward but this is a lot do with the basic approach taken by the interface, which offers direct access to USB device, memory card and network-based files and a limited range of setup options for configuring a screen, network and media.
General control is rather sluggish, though, and video playback in particular is delayed by the loading of thumbnail previews, though thankfully this option can be switched off. Media access is similarly underwhelming with a small six-row listbox for browsing files and no option to filter or search contents, making large collections difficult to manage.
Things do get better when it comes to streaming performance, and 1080i content was handled very well over wireless, without long delays or buffer-pauses. Most new streamers are capable of this now, though, so performance alone will not be a big enough pull.
Format support for video is fairly good, but unfortunately general control is not and there are few options for managing playback. Audio and photo access is even more basic and overall we got the impression that the aim of the G-Stream is to simply throw content from a PC or attached storage to a TV with little care or attention to detail.
The G-Stream’s redeeming features are that it is cheap and, while often frustrating to use, is easy to set up and operate. It may suit less serious users who can see benefit from such functionality with little need for anything beyond basic control, but overall this is an underwhelming addition to the market and even at this price point there are more attractive alternatives available elsewhere.
Company: Dane Elec