The following models scored the best results in our test
|What to buy|
|D-Link Media Lounge Entertainment Network DSM 320
|Microsoft Xbox 360
|Logitech Squeezebox Wireless Digital Music Player
The D-Link DSM 320 may not perform quite as well as the others in our what to buy list, but it's very easy to use and good value.
If you've already got a Microsoft Xbox 360 the addition of a Wi-fi attachment for $155 will turn it into a very functional music streaming device. Otherwise it's relatively expensive.
If it wasn't for its just OK standby energy score, the Logitech Squeezebox Wireless Digital Music Player would be equal to the top overall performer. It's easy to use and performed well in our tests.
What about the rest?
All except the Mediagate MG350HD Wireless High Definition Multimedia player are reasonably easy to use. Poor standby power performance reduced some overall scores, particularly for the Apple TV and Pinnacle Soundbridge Radio Wi-Fi Music System. There's really no excuse for this in a product that's likely to be left in standby for long periods.
What is streaming?
Media (music and video) streamers are essentially a device that can read the media on your computer's hard drive, convert it to other formats, and transmit it to a sound system elsewhere in the home. If your computer and sound system are in different rooms, there has to be some form of connection and all the devices in this test can link up either via an Ethernet cable, or by wireless if you have a wireless router connected.
All the devices we tested are capable of reading a number of music formats, while some can also read video and still image formats as well (see the Formats table).
Music tends to require less data to be transferred to get a good result.
Video over wireless is not really viable if there's any obstruction to your wireless connection, but all the devices that can read video formats in this test performed well when connected by cable.
The Ziova Clearstream CS 510 has a good ease of use score, but we couldn't test its wireless performance because it refused to connect to our network. The distributor couldn't track down the problem in time for publication.
After many attempts and upgrading the product's firmware the company did finally solve the wireless problem (the SSID name has to be less than eight characters and the wireless access point set to 802.11g only).
We also discovered it wouldn't deliver sound when connected to a TV using HDMI. This is a known problem and Ziova assures us there's an upgrade coming to resolve it.