We found some innovative ideas inside the MediaGate MG-350HD, but this streamer’s shortcomings far outweigh its assets. Designing the shell to accommodate an optional 3.5-inch hard drive, for instance, is brilliant; ditto for including logic enabling it to operate as a USB 2.0 host. This means it can not only behave as a NAS box but also copy images off your digital camera without you having to first fire up your PC. But we’re less enthused about having to do a reach-around to access the USB port, and the hard-drive interface is old-school IDE.
The MG-350HD is capable of streaming video at resolutions up to 1080p, but it’s equipped with a DVI port, not HDMI. While it’s no big deal to buy an adapter or a special cable to connect it to your TV or A/V receiver’s HDMI port, you’ll need separate cables to run audio.
It would be easy to overlook connector shortcomings if the device performed flawlessly, but the ugly user interface is so clumsy that it literally refers you to the user manual to figure out how to stream Internet radio. What’s worse is that you won’t find any such coverage in the nearly incomprehensible documentation.
We streamed standard-definition video over an 802.11g network without a hitch, but it should surprise no one that the player chokes on HD content unless it’s hardwired to the network. The MG-350HD supports a variety of audio codecs, including MP3, OGG, WAV, and WMA, but the only way it can stream music during a photo slide show is if the music is stored on its local hard drive. Lame.
Accommodates an internal hard drive (not included); can act as a USB host.
She Gods of Shark Reef
No HDMI, doesn't support FLAC; as configured, cannot stream photos and music simultaneously.