I currently have a Philips 5982 DVD player that I use to plug in a USB key and play divx AVI files with. However, lately I've wanted to play 720p MKV files and am tired of spending hours using ConvertX to DVD and then burning, etc. since most of the files are over 4GB and the DVD player only supports fat32, that has been my only option.
I've briefly checked out the Western Digital player and Asus player info online and it seems they may meet my needs and the price is where I want to be, around $100, but not quite sure they will meet all my needs.
I want to be able to plug in a USB drive to the player and be able to take MKV files I have on my PC and transfer them over the network to the hard drive connected to the media player and play them. I would be hooking the player up to my 720p plasma via HDMI and would occasionally just use the sound on the TV to watch movies. Other times I would like to use a Toslink optical cable output to my receiver to get the full 5.1 DTS surround (although really I just have the front speakers, center channel and subwoofer, technically 3.1 I guess).
I'm also considering a new router which factors in. Currently I have a Wireless G Dlink, but am researching new Wireless N routers with gigabit ethernet ports.
I've read about problems streaming over wireless, so I wouldn't necessarily need wireless. I can run a cat 5e cable through the wall, since my living room and office share a wall, so wireless isn't required. However, I would prefer a gigabit ethernet port, so that I can get the quickest speed transferring 10gb+ files from a PC to the HD connected to the player. Alternatively I guess I could connect the hard drive to the PC, then hook it back up like I do now, but would prefer not to.
I also wouldn't mind being able to do some of the streaming online apps such as pandora, etc. but that isn't a show stopper.
Needs: $130 or less price range, lower the better; ability to play MKV; ability to output sound via HDMI and either Toslink or Coax with DTS/Dolby 5.1 playback (looks like I could get a SPDIF to optical converter to get around this); ability to transfer files over Ethernet from PC to USB drive attached to the media player
Desires: gigabit ethernet port; streaming app support such as Pandora, etc.
Thanks for suggestions!