Hardware Review – D-Link DSM-320RD Media Lounge
I bought one of these a few months ago as I had just moved house and needed a new way to watch video off the server on the TV/Projector downstairs. At my old place it was in the next room so I just ran a pair of long s-video and audio cables across. Because I wanted the server upstairs in the new place this posed a bit of a problem due to the layout of the rooms. At the time I was tinkering with using a wireless network so when I read about the D-Link Medialounge device I got quite excited.
Unfortunately the wireless network was a total flop which you can read about in earlier entries and I ended up reverting back to ethernet. This device works using either so that was no problem there.
The device itself looks much like a standard DVD player (which is also one of its functions) but it does a whole lot more. You need to be running either the D-Link server software or one of the others out there like TVersity or Twonky Vision. These run on one or more of the PCs connected to your network. Their job amongst other things is to catologue the audio and video files on your system. The usual method is that you pick the folders you would like the Medialounge box to have access to.
Next you boot up the box, pick the server you wish to connect to if there’s more than one and then you can start browsing the shared folders.
Playback is good and it’s quite neat to play the mp3 music through the main speakers downstairs whilst doing random things around the house. I do really like the device but there are three issues I would class as “MAJOR ANNOYANCES” ?
- Fast forward only works at 2x, even my Sky+ Box can do upto 30x
- Rewind just doesn’t seem to work with networked video, this sucks when you miss something due to a phonecall or someone at the door etc
- DVD is region locked
I’ve spent several hours working on the last annoyance. At first it started with me just trying to telnet into the device. Then when that didn’t work I started googling it. I found a few useful sites:
That last link was found during my last search attempts and on first reading sounds like the holy grail of unlocking the DVD. It’s not ?
If you do some further reading either on that forum or on any of the links they posted you’ll see that although ppl could telnet into the device and change the region setting it just wouldn’t work correctly.
First off, if you’re in the UK and got the UK version of the device then the firmware version will probably be 1.02eu. There is an eu version 1.03 out there although people have reported a host of problems with it and it’s not an official release as of yet. If you have the 1.02 firmware then telnet access is disabled as default and the key sequence described in that last link (the holy grail one) won’t work without some extra fiddling around. The fiddling around involves changing the firmware to another version that does support the key sequence thing.
Remember here that my goal was to make the DVD region free so I could watch my US DVDs as well as my UK ones. I didn’t really mention that earlier so let’s just pretend I did ?
When I started reading that people where still having problems even though they had telnetted into the device and made them region free I soon found someone suggesting that it may be due to the actual DVD drives firmware i.e. seperate from the main devices firmware.
That’s where my online line of enquiry ended as I could find no further information about the DVD drive so finding a region free firmware would prove impossible. To proceed I decided to open the box up and have a look at the internals.
The DVD drive inside a DSM-320RD is an EPO DP-306D. It’s connected via a standard IDE cable along with a normal power connector. I unscrewed the drive and hooked it up to my PC to see what Nero InfoTool and KProbe would tell me. If you google the drive model you’ll see that it’s used in quite a few devices similar to the medialounge and one of them had a review where the reviewers used these two utilities to check out the drive. I thought I’d have a go as well just in case there were any differences between theirs and mine.
Windows ackowledged the drive straight away and installed it with no problems, I didn’t even have to go on a crazy driver hunt since it had them already.
Nero Infotool says the drive runs at 24x and has a firmware version of 589H. Initially it reported that the Region was RPC I and that it was totally unlocked. You can imagine that I was pretty pleased with this.
KProbe says the drives PID is EPO-LDR DP-306D and that its firmware is the same as above. It also says it’s Region free which again left me pretty happy. Then I loaded KProbes RPC Setting window. When I hit “Query” to read the region info it stated:
053002 CANNOT READ MEDIUM - INCOMPATIBLE FORMAT
That made me a bit nervous. At this point I thought I’d just test it out. I stuck in my Apocolypse Now Redux edition DVD and loaded up Media Player Classic. It loaded the movie but the view and sound was all garbled. Windows Media Player just refused to load the movie stating there was a problem.
With the DVD still in the drive I loaded up Nero Infotool again. *Bling* different data than before. Now it says RPC II and that the region is set to 2. It also said I had 5 user changes and 4 vendor changes left.
KProbe now said the same; that it was RPC2 and region locked to 2. The RPC Setting window not reads:
Type Code : Drive region is set
# of Vendor Resets Available : 4
# of User Controlled Changes Available : 5
Drive DVD Region : 2
Which sucked. I figured “screw it” now it at least recognises some region info so lets try Disabling it. I tapped the Disable button and then sat there for over 5 minutes while the drive span at what seemed like an insane speed and the program went very unresponsive. I decided to wait it out. At the end of it all the drive stopped spinning and it came back with a popup saying that Disabling the Region had failed.
I spent about 4 hours looking around with various search engines for some hint of a region crack for this drive and found zilch.
For now I’ve given up, I’ve put it all back together and hooked it up downstairs again. I’ve still got my old DVD player which I unlocked using a simple remote control code so I can always hook that back up whenever I want to watch one of my US DVDs.
Either way the DSM-320RD has opened my eyes to how handy these devices really are. If it really begins to annoy me then I know that there are a whole slew of these things out there and now I know what to look for feature wise so I can always buy something else.