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Media Services

D-Link DNS-323: A brand-name NAS worth waiting for.
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In addition to providing shared storage on your network, the D-Link 323 also has five servers to provide additional function and value. With the exception of the built-in print server that doesn't require configuration, each of these servers is also configured on the Advanced tab.

I'll first cover the UPnP AV server, which enables media players located on the network to stream pictures, music and video from content stored on the NAS. While it's common for media server software to run on a PC to serve up content, more home-based storage devices are starting to include media server software. This eliminates the need to keep a PC running to ensure that content is always available.

I tested the 323's UPnP server by setting up a D-Link DSM-320RD media player and copying an assortment of .JPG, .MP3, .AVI and .MPG files to a media directory off the root. I then configured the UPnP server to use \media as the content directory. The good news is that when I installed the DSM-320RD media player, it immediately discovered the 323. The bad is that none of the content played properly. An upgrade (unreleased as of this writing) of the Media Player's firmware enabled me to play back .MP3 files, but the media player still wouldn't play either .JPG or .AVI files.

To troubleshoot the problem further, I installed D-Link's UPnP media server software on a Windows notebook and pointed it to the same directory on the 323. The software-based server was able serve up .JPG files that played properly on the media player. So it's safe to assume that there's a problem with the 323's built-in UPnP AV server that keeps it from properly serving .JPG to the D-Link Media Player. I notified D-Link about this problem and hopefully it will be addressed in a future firmware release.

I also discovered that the DSM-320RD doesn't support uncompressed .AVI files - the type commonly used by digital cameras that shoot video. So to test video streaming capabilities, I converted a video file to MPEG format, placed it in the media directory and found that the video streamed smoothly from the 323. I also discovered (and D-Link confirmed) that if you place new content on the 323, you have to log in and manually "refresh" the server. In other words, the server doesn't automatically rescan the media directories on a scheduled basis.

If you're an iTunes user, you're going to love the 323 because it also has a built-in iTunes server that's a snap to configure (Figure 10). It's enabled by default so all you have to do is enter an iTunes password (if you want one) and point it to your music directory. Any iTunes client should then be able to automatically find and connect to the 323's iTunes server.

Figure 10: iTunesServer configuration

I tested the ITunes server on both the PC and MAC versions of ITunes (Version 7.02) and found that both clients automatically discovered the server and were able to play songs from the server without incident. Note the "D-Link_NAS" entry located immediately under the iTunes Store in Figure 11 below. By the way, I also found that you also have to do the manual rescan trick each time new iTunes content is added.

Figure 11: iTunes Version 7.02 showing connection to DNS-323 (click image to enlarge)
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