I-O Data's AVeL LinkPLayer2
I-O Data has recently announced the US release of their popular Japanese HD media player, the AVeL LinkPLayer2. While we've previously discussed the merits of WMV versus DiVX for high-definition, this player bridges that gap nicely. Boasting both WMV– and DiVX–HD, MPEG2–TS for those downloaded clips, as well as Slingbox networking functionality, it seems to fill that niche we have mentioned on the podcast for ways to get your HD content on standard DVD media. It plays back the usual smorgasbord of video and audio formats like XviD, MP3, AAC, Ogg, JPEG, PNG, and others. It also is ready for Rhapsody and CinemaNow accounts, and can read RSS feeds so you can get your HD Beat fix while you watch your content. You even get a coupon for a free HDNet WMV disc included. So where does it go wrong? For starters, it doesn't upconvert standard DVDs. They are simply outputted to your set at 480p. Also, there is no digital video output, only component (not such a problem for viewers like me who only have analog anyway, but surely a hassle for those of you with digital matrix switchers). Finally, the player isn't certified for DTS - although it isn't clear from the specs whether this simply means they can't put the DTS–certified logo on the case, or if it doesn't support DTS at all. In any case, if you're waiting out the next–gen DVD war, or just want a way to placeshift content over your network using the player and your Slingbox, the LinkPlayer2 will be available at CompUSA starting August 1st.

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DiVX- and WMV-HD player both hits and misses