The home screen of the PBO contains icon shortcuts to all of the features. A simple left-right and up-down navigation is accomplished using the directional pad on the remote. Setup is easy and other than a few selections to customize it for your audio and video hardware, there's not much to it.
Video is likewise a snap, although there are a bunch of options to fine tune the picture, these are also typically found in the TV's setup so I didn't mess around with them here. The Network setup is where I ran into my first hiccup. I have my wireless router configured to NOT broadcast its SSID name for security purposes. Although some devices will still see the signal it typically shows up as "unidentified network" and the SSID must be specified manually during setup. This has never caused a problem before when configuring wireless clients to connect, including XP, Vista and 7 PC's, Nintendo Wii, Nintendo DSi and even Apple iPod Touch. However I could not get the PBO to connect to my wireless router until I changed it to broadcast its SSID. After I did that then all I had to do was input my WPA passkey and it connected instantly.
Once connected to the network, browsing to the server required inputting a username and password to access the share folder. The computer name and credentials can then be saved to the PBO's shortcuts so you don't have to type these in every time. Accessing the directory structure is easy, and the PBO defaults to showing a preview of video or picture files as you move through the list. I discovered however that when using the wireless connection this severely bogged down the unit to the point where it sporadically stops registering button selections from the remote control. The wired network connection did not have this issue, although there is still a delay depending on the size of the file, which you can eliminate by simply turning off the preview function on the PBO.
Music files were much easier to process over the wireless due to their smaller size and lack of graphic preview, although title information is displayed. You can select to play an entire folder or customize a playlist, and the music player will display album art if it exists in the same folder as the music files. There is also a file copy feature that can be used to move data to and from an attached USB drive, internal HDD or shared NET path. Although there is no network test function built into the PBO, each file you browse to causes a popup from the unit to briefly show the bandwidth speed.
You can install the included Transcode Media Server software on the PC rather than using Windows sharing. This allows you to customize the content that is shared and control its presentation, which can make browsing less cumbersome. Also since the PBO does not seem to respect the Windows "hidden" file attribute, if you don't want to separate your content based on Windows credentials, this is another way you can control who sees what. The software has additional benefits in that you can browse the local content on the PBO hard drive (if installed) from the PC or connect to and download BitTorrent or Samba content.
Let's wrap things up with some final thoughts and conclusion.