The Buffalo LinkTheatre LTV100 is a small, Full HD-capable media streaming device with basic functions. It's capable of playing files from attached USB storage devices, as well as from media servers and shared resources on your home network. However, its interface doesn't do a good job of sorting content and you can't watch YouTube videos or stream online music, unlike some other streamers at the same price point.
The LinkTheatre supports all popular video and music file formats, including Divx, Xvid, H.264, MP3, FLAC and more. We had no problems playing an assortment of video and music files during our tests, and its performance was smooth and devoid of any sync or stuttering problems.
We used HDMI for our tests, but you can also use Composite and analogue audio if you have an older TV without HDMI. The video ports are on the back, along with a 10/100 Ethernet port and a USB 2.0 port. There is another USB 2.0 port on the front, and the front panel also has a power button and indicator lights. It's a simple device to set up and use: simply plug it in to your TV and switch it on.
When you first switch it on, you have to enter your language; after that you are presented with a very simple menu system that consists of five icons: Movies, Photos, Music, All and Setup. To play content, all you have to do is plug in a USB drive packed with your video and music files or, if you have it connected to your network, you can browse shared folders on your computer.
In our tests, the LinkTheatre had no problems at all performing in a networked scenario. It picked up an IP address automatically from our router and it detected all the computers on our network. We were able to play files from shared folders off Windows 7-based computers, and we were able to save login credentials so that we didn't have to log in every time we wanted to access a particular resource.
The LinkTheatre's interface does leave a lot to be desired though. While it has icons for Movies, Music and Photos, it doesn't actually present you with a list of sorted content when you go into these menus. Every menu presents you with the same file structure that's present in the location where your media is stored. For example, you will always be shown a list of all the folders on a plugged-in hard drive, whether or not they contain media you want to play. We found this interface to be very unintuitive and time consuming. Only when you click on a particular folder does the LinkTheatre show the type of files that you have selected.
Another annoyance is that you can't change the view or the sorting of the file listings. This means you can't display the latest content first, for example. This is unlike other recent streamers we've seen, such as the Seagate FreeAgent GoFlex TV and the WD TV Live Hub. The only option you can change relating to views is the video preview; you can disable video previews from appearing when you select a video file. We'd definitely recommend disabling the preview option as it automatically plays every file you pass over, making for a very slow user experience.
The remote control isn't intuitive; its buttons are all over the place and some of them have vague labels. It also doesn't have a 'Menu' button, or a 'Setup' button. This means that you have to click on the 'Home' button, and then browse to the 'Setup' page if you want to make any changes. That said, there isn't much to change, but it would still be nice to have a dedicated setup button on the remote. The remote can be frustrating to use unless the angle to the LinkTheatre is just right. If you are too far left or right of the streamer, you have to get up and get closer to it for it to work.
Overall, the LinkTheatre LTV100 is fine if you want a basic little network streamer that can also play files off USB drives. However, it's a somewhat no-frils device that can be frustrating to use and it lacks online features such as YouTube and Internet radio streaming. There are better options available at the same price point — Seagate's FreeAgent GoFlex TV is one such product. The LinkTheatre would be a better proposition if it was cheaper.