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CES: 'Link Theater' Links LAN-Based HD Content To Home Theater Setups

Like Apple's AppleTV, which can distribute PC-based content to your home entertainment center, Buffalo Technologies' Link Theater High Definition Media Player can play videos, digital photos, and music found on LAN-based PCs and network attached storage (NAS) devices through a home theater setup. Here at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, Buffalo Technologies product manager Oliver Kavens gave me a guided tour of the device.
Like Apple's AppleTV, which can distribute PC-based content to your home entertainment center, Buffalo Technologies' Link Theater High Definition Media Player can play videos, digital photos, and music found on LAN-based PCs and network attached storage (NAS) devices through a home theater setup. Here at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, Buffalo Technologies product manager Oliver Kavens gave me a guided tour of the device.

Quite honestly, it seems like you can't spit at CES without hitting a device of this sort: one that, for playback, links PC-based digital content to home theater systems. But Kavens thinks that price and support for high-definition content are at least some of the Link Theater's differentiating features.

The Link Theater is being announced here at CES and the unit Kavens showed me is one of the first devices to come out of manufacturing. Buffalo expects the price to run around $199 (the AppleTV starts at $299).

But it's the Link Theater's ability to play HD content that Kavens believes will attract buyers. Said Kavens:


It is HD. So you can play high definition content. You have a lot of consumer-level HD cameras at the $1,000 and sub-$1,000 level that consumers are using to create home videos. [This] is a good opportunity to play that back. It connects to your entertainment system through HDMI.

On the back of the Link Theater are a bunch of ports that Kavens shows us in the video. There's a USB port for connecting an external hard drive (one that might contain your HD content). This is different from the approach that Apple, who builds hard drives into its AppleTVs, takes. It has a DVI connector for connecting to PC displays, analog audio and component video outputs, a digital audio output, an RJ45 jack (for Ethernet connectivity), and the aforementioned HDMI output. The Ethernet interface is what allows the Link Theater to retrieve content from other devices on a home network (PCs, NAS, etc.) for playback.

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