Sitecom MD-500 Digital Media Set review
Posted by Hilbert Hagedoorn on: 10/20/2010 01:00 PM [ 0 comment(s) ]
The Wireless Media Router 300N
So the first product you probably want to install to actually startup the infrastructure needed for all that heavy weight content is the router.
For those of you that understand roughly what a router does, and have some grasp of the countless abbreviations that seem to clutter this subject, just skip over to the next section.
Lets start simple. You are reading this webpage through a link called guru3d.com, this link relates to an IP address (if you don't believe me, open a dos / command prompt and type ping guru3d.com). The IP address relates back to a physical machine in the world which hosts this text. Your computer has a very similar setup.
The way your PC connects to guru3d, is through (amongst other things) routers. You are connected to your ISP through cable/dsl/dialup, now I pretty much guarantee that you are then passed through some form of router, which combines you and everyone else connected to the ISP, into another IP address. This (very simplified model) happens in both directions between you and guru3d. This process is called network address translation or NAT, and can be found in every off the shelf router. One last point about NAT is that there are two sides to it. The local side (LAN), and the world side (WAN). You are on the local side of your ISP, and guru3d is on the world side of your ISP. When you get a router, you will be on the local side of the router, guru (and your ISP) will be on the world side of your router. The local side is referred to as the LAN side (local area network) while the world side is referred to as the WAN side (Wide area network).
e.g. PC A (192.168.0.1) <----> (192.168.0.254 - LAN Side) Router (220.127.116.11 - WAN Side) <----> Internet
NAT can be built on to provide various options that can be adjusted inside a router, and depending on how complex the designers of the hardware are, many administration functions are born e.g. Blocking access to the internet for certain machines on your network.
NAT is often referred to as a hardware firewall, this is my pet hate as NAT is NOT a firewall. Pure NAT does protect your machine from attacks, but only because the attacker does not have the required information to locate your machine. i.e. The attacker may have your routers address of 18.104.22.168, but hasn't got the routing information to get to your 192.etc address. A firewall is often included in your router, however referring to NAT as a firewall is wrong (Rant over !).
Along with IP addresses, there are also MAC addresses. MAC addresses can be referred to as physical addresses as they are usually only accessible on local networks (lets keep it simple eh), and few MAC addresses can be changed. In fact, MAC addresses are set by the manufacturer of the hardware and should be unique. Although MAC addresses are used heavily in routing, we will only cover them here for simple uses.
The first time you should have come across a MAC address (if you are on something like cable) is when you registered your modem. You would have had to tell a server somewhere (via an operator maybe) that this modem exists and requires service. With a router, you need to clone the MAC address of the modem for NAT to work properly. After that, the WAN side of the router needs to have its IP address set (usually automatically), which leaves the realm of MAC addressing so we stop there!
The next time you may see MAC addressing is when you are dealing with local machines. Like we discussed earlier, many routers have administration functions, for instance blocking access to the net for one or many computers. This is very easy to do, and in one form or another uses MAC addressing.
Every network card also has a MAC address, the router can control what access is allowed via these MAC addresses because every request must go through the router.
In a generic example, a router dishes out IP addresses to clients via a DHCP service (how ISPs work for 100% of dialup users). A simple use of MAC addressing, is to split the IP range up and assign the same IP address(es) to a / many selected PC(s). Whats the use of that I hear you ask. Well this means now, that if any ports need to be opened on the firewall, you can open the port to only one machine, and therefore not exposing anyone else on the network to this open port. Because you have made the machine(s) in question have the same address, you can be 100% sure that it is only those machines that you are distributing service to. This is also a handy reference because a MAC address is hard to remember, where as a 3 digit number is much easier in comparison. Only 3 digits because most routers only assign 253 IP addresses, e.g. 192.168.0.1 -> 192.168.0.253 so you only need to remember the last three octets.
Anyway, that is the basic set of networking that you really need for this article. Have a look at the networking section in our forums if you have any other questions, there is a few links for general information, or you can ask questions if you are still unsure of a few points.
Sitecom includes their 300N router which has, amongst others, the following options:
- StreamEngine technology ensures uninterrupted performances for High Definition video and audio streaming
- Automatic Quality of Service gives priority to time-sensitive applications
- WISH: wireless intelligent stream handling for the internal wireless network
- Peer to Peer optimized and up to 30.000 simultaneous open connections guaranteeing ideal performance for downloading
- Two access points with 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz wireless band which can be used simultaneously
- Specially reserved 5 GHz frequency for time-sensitive traffic such as audio and HD-video streaming, gaming, downloading and VoIP without any interruptions
- Wireless speeds up to 300 Mbps on both bands
- Built-in 4-port full-duplex 10/100/1000 Switch for wired Gigabit speeds
- Built-in full-duplex 10/100/1000 WAN port to guarantee optimal performance with your internet connection
- XR Extended Range technology reduces dead spots and offers an optimal range
- One USB port to connect an external USB storage device and share the stored digital content with all connected users
- Standard fully out of the box secured with WPA2
- Smart One-Push Setup button
- Create a safe wireless connection with just a push
Included in this package is the 300N router, a power adapter, CAT5e cable and CD/manual.
Here we have the front side of the router, and guys .. you have no idea how hard it is to photograph white products based on a white background :) The little dots are all activity LEDs with corresponding information. The entire kit by the way carries the color white.
The backside of the router has a built-in 4-port full-duplex 10/100/1000 Switch for wired Gigabit connectivity on the LAN side (yellow connectors) and for nice and fast connectivity on the WAN (uplink) side there is a (blue) full-duplex 10/100/1000 port. Most consumers do not need a Gigabit uplink just yet, but here in the office for example we are connected over cable with 120 Mbit/sec download and 10 Mbit/sec upload transfers.
Make no mistake, your future router should be Gigabit compatible as these routers also have way more throughput to offer, and well ... broadband is advancing (getting faster) fast in Europe. But let's have a look at some of the configuration options and installation. Next page please.
The Sitecom Powerline Ethernet adapters allow you to use your mains electricity circuit to transfer data, this way you can extend your network to wherever you have a free plug socket. The product we test today comes from Sitecom, their 500 Mbps plus Homeplug. The kit provides a connection of up to 500Mbits/sec. Divide that by 8 bits and you'd in theory would be able to see transfer speeds of 62.5 Megabyte per second. In practice, however we tested the maximum net data rate is much MUCH lower, 60~100 Mbits/sec - still that is faster than Wi-Fi and sufficient fenough or streaming high-definition video from say your PC with network shares to, for instance, your HTPC.
Sitecom Media Player 2TB MD-272 review
So the new Sitecom Media Player comes standard with a new improved GUI, but also hardware wise harbor the latest Realtek 1185 chipset, and that changes a thing or two as pretty much any of the performance issues we had noticed in 1080P content playback (with very high bit-rate) on the previous chipset now are a thing of the past. That Realtek 1185 chipset has an increased clock frequency, 500 MHz coming from 400 MHz on the original version. And as little as it sounds, it makes a serious difference. The HDD TV Media Player 2TB allows you to play digital films, music and photos directly on your TV with High Definition quality (1080p).
Sitecom 300N X4 WLR-4000 Wireless router review
Sitecom introduces a series of standard routers but with a twist. They tagged their mainstream range from X1, X2, X3 and a more enthusiast range from X4, X5 and X6. They are all Gigabit models, but obviously the higher the number the better the feature set. all models now come with cloud security, and that's the new feature we'll discuss later on. We test the X4 WLR-4000 model.
Sitecom MD-500 Digital Media Set review
One of the kits Sitecom recently introduced consists out of a Gigabit router for your intra and local area network connectivity, a storage unit which Sitecom calls 'Home Storage center' will function as NAS server for all your multi-media content like photo's, music and movies. And then a small all-in-one HTPC or TV media player as we like to call it these days. To top things off they throw in a Logitech Harmony 650 universal remote control. Aren't you just eager to see how this HTPC network platform will perform ?