Technology Showcase: Home Media Servers
Aug 4, 2009 12:00 PM, By Bennett Liles
Storage and playback options for residential audio and video.
Coming out this month, Crestron Electronics’ ADMS-BR Adagio digital media system finds and stores media from just about anywhere with the WorldSearch feature. The high-definition multimedia server is joined with a Blu-ray Disc player, online streaming media player, and web browser that can be used for online movie rental and purchasing. The system’s surround-sound outputs add to the two independent stereo zone outputs, and source media can be kept ready on the internal 1TB RAID 1 storage. For more capacity, the CEN-NAS-4TB 4TB network-attached storage device with RAID 5 can be included. The rear panel features an IEEE 1394 FireWire port, USB ports, LAN connection, component video and HDMI outputs,S/PDIF and analog audio inputs and outputs, and S/PDIF and analog surround connections. As might be expected with Crestron gear, there is also a 9-pin RS-232 interface for connection to Crestron’s control systems.
The Escient Vision VS-200 has dual 1TB drives with RAID 1 data mirroring and the ability to store up to 200 movies along with audio and photos imported through the front-panel drive. The unit can also play CDs and DVDs featuring support for external disc changers and external control through Gigabit Ethernet or an RS-232 adapter. A high-definition user interface works with local mouse and keyboard support to select media and operate setup features including parental controls, network connections, and streaming and import preferences. The rear panel includes an IR input; four HDMI 1.3 inputs; HDMI 1.3 out; component video, S-Video, and composite video out; digital optical and coax out; analog audio out; two USB ports; and an Ethernet port. The VS-200 and other models in the Vision series allow access to the extensive music catalog of the Rhapsody music service.
For rackmount or nonrack placement anywhere in the home, the Genesis media server from Fusion Research can output audio on digital coax, analog stereo and video on HDMI (video only), and component and composite with an adapter. The unit can also be paired with a DVD or Blu-ray drive, and it will access the independent movie database built and maintained by Fusion Research to find the latest media attractions online with its capability to use standard Cat-5e wiring, routers, and switches. The FR-VCP2 model scales video to 1080p, and the FR-VCPBD model can handle any 1080p from the source. The unit can be remote controlled through a supplied infrared remote or through the IP connection with third-party control systems such as Crestron and others or from a TV. Up to 300 DVDs or 3,200 CDs can be stored internally, and this capacity can be expanded with third-party network-attached storage.
Powered by an Intel Atom 1.6GHz processor and Windows Home Server software, the HP MediaSmart Server LX195 automatically backs up media files and centralizes media control. The server can be controlled locally or remotely with any Internet-connected PC or Mac. The capacity of the internal 640GB hard disk can be expanded through the unit’s four USB 2.0 ports. Automated PC backup software can be used to back up files from computers elsewhere in the home as well as saving files to an online backup service. The unit supports iTunes and Windows Media Player along with integration with Xbox 360 or PlayStation 3.
With up to 4TB internal storage using RAID 5 or a choice of other RAID configurations, the Denzel DTCD30-Si from Inteset is controllable with a range of touchpanels from Crestron, Vantage, AMX, Life|ware, and others. Tuner configurations can include up to four CableCard tuners or two ATSC, two NTSC, and an FM radio tuner, enabling the user to watch one while recording from another. Inteset’s Multi-zone Music module allows an additional two audio listening zones while processing up to eight music channels in Dolby Digital EX, Dolby Pro Logic, DTS-ES, and DTS Neo:6 for a connected surround-sound amplifier. Other features include Extreme 3D Gaming, a photo viewer, Blu-ray/DVD movie server with 720p and 1080p HD and dual independent video output channels, Inteset’s one-button Secure Lockdown, a high-grade aluminum chassis, gold-plated front-panel headphone/microphone connectors, and a very quiet thermal cooling architecture.
The Kaleidescape Ksystem-120, better known as the Mini System, uses RAID-K technology to store up to 75 DVDs or 825 CDs. With added disk cartridges, it can store up to 225 DVDs or 2,500 CDs. Playback can be done over the 1080p movie zone and two independent music zones simultaneously while the system adapts its video processing to the type of content being viewed. When a DVD is inserted, high-resolution cover art appears and the unit bypasses the trailers and ads to go directly to the movie. The video outputs include HDMI v1.3, component, S-Video, and composite. The unit can interface with a number of widely used control systems via RS-232 on a DB9 and Ethernet on RJ-45. There is also a rear-panel IR input for wired connection on a mini jack and a front panel IR receiver for handheld remote operation.
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