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Hi guys,


I have recently moved from a single into a two floor apartment. This has forced me to split up my PC (upstairs) and my TV (downstairs). Since my GF loves listening to some of our mp3s while working out in front of the TV, I have decided that I need to get 'something' to allow us to play music on the downstairs stereo.


Since I am currently not able to devote large amounts of time or cash to a HTPC/ PVR project, I was considering to get a digital media server.


I started looking around at the Netgear WMA11b, then at the DSM 320 and the bottom line is that there is not really a single device that does what I want it to do. My requirements are:

must play mp3s Very basic, I do not really need a media player, since I have a Laptop I can use for the two times/ year we actually view photos on the TV. So, picture/ video viewing is a lesser concern.

must support WPA-PSK, since my WLAN runs on that and I am not willing to decrease my security. I am willing to consider a wired device and get a bridge, but only if the device is exactly what I want in other departments.

non-bloatware Server software I absolutely despise bloatware (Musicmatch, Creative Labs Soundcard drivers etc.) and am not willing to install junk like that on any of my PCs.

no lame DRM All my music is in mp3 format (between 128kbps CBR and 192 VBR) and I am not willing nor do I have the room to convert them

medium sized collection support I have ~7000 mp3's. If my player doesn't see them all, it's very much pointless

Possibly LCD/ VFD/ Display Since I am planning on playing music, it'd be nice to be able to select music without turning on the TV, however, a TV interface would be nice (browsing 7K songs on a 2 line display seems like a really bad idea imho), therefore I am ok with something that only has TV output, but would prefer something with both!

inexpensive If this thing is going to set me back much more than $300, I am really better off (cheaper) using some of my old PC components and adding a TV tuner and setting up my HTPC myself.


I have done some of my HW already and came to this:


SL400i -> very nice, looks great, reasonably priced, but no WPA and adding a $60 AP to that makes it not so cool.


AVeL LinkPlayer2 -> I was almost ready to pull the plug on this one, but I am wondering if I have a 'choice'. My DVD player stink and having a second one may be rather interesting.


XboX media center -> not sure what it is really called, but it seems to be very versatile, however, I think that it has nothing over a real HTPC which I could probably have for the same price, since I do not own an xbox now and purchasing it and a mod chip would run me a good amount (not to speak of a wireless game adapter etc.).


So guys, what do you, the experts think? I am really curious. I guess I should price

out the HTPC using my current PC to see exactly how much it would run me.
 

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XBMC gets my vote. I still think it's the greatest piece of kit I've ever had the pleasure of owning/modding. Use my xboxen every damn day.


You might be able to sling together an HTPC for 200 bucks (look for used/refurbed at gamestop/blockbuster etc...) (about what XBMC will cost you with a good chip). I'd go wired if that matters. Sure it's ugly, but you can but it behind closed doors and use an IR repeater.
 
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