Technology Showcase: Home Media Servers
Aug 4, 2009 12:00 PM, By Bennett Liles
Storage and playback options for residential audio and video.
The A•CMS from Autonomic Controls meets the requirements of the very largest, top-end media installations with 24-hour content scheduling, access to Sirius or XM satellite radio, and the ability to be controlled centrally along with other A•CMS units from a central console. Housed in a 3RU aluminum chassis, the server can output video through VGA, HDMI, DVI, or composite outputs and supports Windows Media, iTunes (AAC), MP3, FLAC, WAV, and other audio formats. Control can be handled through IP on the internal web server and RS-232. Internal storage is done in up to six drive bays (four standard) using RAID 0, 1, 5, or 10. Features include media-ripping capability with automatic metadata downloads.
Axonix offers its MediaServer Pro RAID 6 for upscale media installations with 3RU or 4RU versions, each coming with 50 MediaDeck licenses. Choices in capacity include 15TB, 12TB, 9TB, 6TB, and 4.5TB in the form of three dual RAID 6 parity drives with optional dual power supplies operating in 10 MediaDrive bays. Ports in include USB, FireWire, a 15in. administration LCD monitor, and a 19in. rack keyboard and mouse. The 4RU model comes with an 11-in-one memory card reader. For maximum media security, the RAID storage allows survival of stored contents in the event of a failure in not only one but two drives, and recovery is as simple as sliding out the old drive and sliding in a new one. This capacity allows storage of up to 2,000 DVDs or 500 Blu-ray movies. The unit is able to interface with many of the more commonly used control systems from Crestron, AMX, and others.
The LinkStation Mini from Buffalo Technology suits applications in which size, or lack of it, matters with a very small form factor using 2.5in. drives, a fanless enclosure for virtually silent operation, and low power use at 10W with no USB devices attached. The built-in Digital Living Network Alliance (DLNA)-certified media server can be accessed from anywhere with a web browser. The unit supports RAID 1 mirroring and RAID 0 striping, and the setup does not require drivers. The two SATA 5400 RPM drives allow up to 1TB storage in maximum capacity mode or 500GB in RAID 1 mirroring mode for maximum reliability. The 10/100/1000 LAN port enables TCP/IP and AFP networking, and there is also a USB port. The unit is available in either black or white, and it includes Memeo AutoBackup software for PCs and Macs.
Simple setup and visual appeal mark the CasaTunes XL music server with its 250GB hard drive and two drive bays. Up to 20,000 songs can be stored in CD quality; with compressed formats such as MP3 selected, up to 50,000 songs can be stored on the server. The internal CD drive allows the user to rip CDs straight to iTunes or Windows Media Player. On the XLe multiroom music server, up to five internal music sources may be used along with as many as four external sources such as AM/FM and satellite radio. Running on the Windows Vista Home Premium operating system, the XLi version can provide four built-in music sources and one external source. The XLe can be expanded to cover up to 48 rooms in 12-room expansion units.
At the heart of the Vibe Video System from Colorado Vnet is the Vibe Video Server/Player, which stores DVDs, music, and photos for browsing and instant playback. The VS1-100S, VS1-200S, and VP1-1S models will also play Blu-ray Disc media. Housed in a 16lb. case that’s 4in. tall and less than 14.5in. wide, the unit can play up to three simultaneous video streams in 720p, 1080i, or 1080p video resolutions. It also supports DTS; Dolby Digital; Dolby TrueHD; stereo; and 2.1, 5.1, or 7.1 surround. Video connections include HDMI with multichannel digital audio, component, and VGA. IR and RS-232 remote control connects on a 5-pin screw terminal, and Ethernet connects on an RJ-45. Front-panel indicators show power and LAN status. The VS1-100S and VS1-100D models have 1TB storage in RAID 1 configurations, and the VS1-200S andVS1-200D have 2TB in RAID 1.
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