With digital audio formats such as MP3 and WMA already offering much more portability and audio diversity over traditional compact discs through a multitude of portable audio devices, it was really only a matter of time before wireless streaming gets thrown into the mix in light of its soaring popularity and pervasiveness. A wireless audio receiver like the D-Link DSM-120 basically feeds off a digital collection of MP3s stored on either your pc or laptop and plays it wirelessly from a hi-fi system a distance away.
The D-Link DSM-120 Wireless Music Player is basically a spin-off from its bigger brother, the DSM-320, except that it does not feature snazzier features such as image and video sharing; hence making the DSM-120 a dedicated digital audio receiver. Measuring only 36 x 132 x 198mm, the tablet shaped DSM-120 can be positioned either in an upright position using the supplied base or be installed elegantly on the wall alongside matching wall mounted speakers. Embedded within its black and silver exterior is a blue backlit LCD that displays song lists, and while it only measures 2.75 by 1.5 inches, menu can key information are still visible at a reasonable distance of 3m.
Aesthetics aside, the bread and butter of the DSM-120 lies in its grey 85mm Wi-Fi antenna that can also be folded down for a streamlined look – take note that D-Link does not recommend that the antenna be retracted as it might affect overall wireless reception. When put to the test with the antenna fully extended and the receiver placed about two rooms away, transmission was impressively fast and seamless. In the presence of moderate human traffic however, the DSM-120 demonstrated slight albeit noticeable lag, which was also the cause behind slightly sluggish response
All was fine with the construction and playback quality of the DSM-120 up until the bundled remote control was put to use. With the usual stop, play, skip, backward and forward buttons laid out in an almost random fashion, the remote control came across more of an afterthought than an original accessory that was meant to enhance user's experience of the DSM-120. Compounding to the disappointment was the needlessly sensitive infrared receiver that required spot-on aiming just so controls could be relayed over and processed by the DSM-120 properly.
A welcomed feature offered by the DSM-120 is the option for users to easily install a 2.5-inch hard drive (not included) via a removable back panel. With a hard drive installed, supported audio files can simply be downloaded via the onboard Ethernet jack and mini-USB port. This upgradeability not only gives the DSM-120 the added ability to function as a standalone media but also gives it a significant edge over competing devices. Over at the back of the unit is a busy scene of connectors listing stereo RCA jacks, S/PDIF output port, headphone jack, RJ-45 Ethernet jack, mini-USB port, power jack and a reset button. The headphone jack would come in especially useful for those who want to enjoy full quality audio at night.
D-Link, a major muscle in the wireless networking industry, is definitely making a right move by branching into consumer-oriented products with the DSM-120 a fine example of product diversification. Other than a few areas such as a poor infrared receiver and an unpleasant remote control that are in need of quick refinement, the DSM-120 has shown that it has the right qualities to win over the hearts of those who are shopping for a wireless media player to leap into the new frontier of home digital audio enjoyment.