Linksys KiSS 1600 review

£165
Price when reviewed

Linksys’ KiSS 1600 is another video streamer we’ve seen before (web ID: 113178). Although we weren’t fond of its basic interface, it sports a useful DVD-ROM drive.

Crucially, it also supports DivX and XviD natively – the most common formats on the internet. That means you can plug in a USB flash drive or hard disk and play these formats directly. Alternatively, both formats – and all others the 1600 supports – can be played from a DVD. In fact, the only major format not supported is QuickTime, and it’s the only player here to support Nero Digital (software is included to encode files to this format). Like the Xbox 360 and PS3, the 1600 can upscale standard-definition DVDs to 720p or 1080i over the HDMI 1.2 interface, but it’s also locked to region 2.

At the rear are all the connections you’ll need. It’s just a shame that – like the ZyXEL – the single USB port is at the back, which is inconvenient if you want to play files from a flash drive. There’s wired and wireless networking, but the 802.11g radio proved inadequate to stream our WMV-HD clip without pausing every 30 seconds or so. Needless to say, the H.264 clip wouldn’t play smoothly over Wi-Fi, either. Fortunately, WMV, DivX, XviD and VOB files played fine, but the 8GB file-size limit may mean HD videos have to be split into two files.

The KiSS’s remote is fairly well designed, but the next/previous buttons double up as fast-forward and rewind, which takes some getting used to. With the latest firmware, you can fast-forward and rewind digital video, but it’s far from instant. On occasions, we had to wait up to 30 seconds for the video to start playing again after rewinding, but at least there’s a counter on the front panel to help you keep an eye on progress.

Our other gripe concerns music playback. Even though our test albums were correctly tagged, the 1600 would only play tracks in alphabetical order, and album art wasn’t shown. However, controlling photo slideshows was more intuitive than with the Philips.

Being as deep as a standard DVD player, but only half as wide, the 1600 may not sit well with your existing hi-fi equipment, but it’s still better looking than the Philips and ZyXEL. Overall, the 1600 is a decent choice at this price if you can live with the basic menus.

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