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Technology Showcase: Home Media Servers

Aug 4, 2009 12:00 PM, By Bennett Liles

Storage and playback options for residential audio and video.

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Qsonix Q110

Qsonix Q110

The Qsonix Q110 digital music system is designed for audiophiles who have amassed large collections of CDs and other audio media. It offers a storage capability of up to 18,000 CDs and control of up to four independent music listening zones. The unit can interface with existing audio systems, and it provides the ability to go through the entire CD collection visually with album art locally or with a web browser interface. Interface ports include a S/PDIF coaxial digital output, four analog stereo outs, one VGA video out, four USB ports (two front, two rear), Ethernet, IR receiver lens, 3.5mm IR input, RS-232 port for a touchpanel, RS-232 for control, and an optional Cat-5 monitor extension. Additional features include a versatile playlist control capability with mixes between any artists and Softfade technology to provide smooth transitions between tracks.

Russound SMS3 Smart Media Server

Russound SMS3 Smart Media Server

The SMS3 Smart Media Server from Russound offers three independent audio streams and the capability of still-photo presentation individually or as a slideshow on a TV screen or through a web browser on a networked computer. It can also be integrated into a Russound RNET system using the RNET loop-through ports, where it can be controlled using UNO keypads or touchscreens. Remote-control options also include RS-232 and infrared through either the front-panel IR receiver or the rear-panel IR mini jack. Video output formats include composite, S-Video, and VGA. The CD drive allows music and other information to be transferred to the internal 160GB hard drive (250GB on the SMS3-250), where the music selections transferred in this way or directly from a computer can be organized into playlists or integrated into Internet feeds to be played on a time schedule.

S1Digital’s P500 media center operates on Windows Vista Ultimate with a 3GHz Intel E8500 Core 2 Duo CPU. Using heatpipe technology for quiet operation, the unit houses three 1TB SATA hard drives in RAID 5 configuration, and it uses an ATI All-in-Wonder 3650 video card to output HDMI, DVI, component, and VGA video. The P500 also contains a Blu-ray Disc drive and QAM/ATSC TV tuners along with quad digital cable for viewing/recording up to five channels simultaneously. Audio is output in 7.1 HD on digital optical or analog connections and in 8-channel with 24-bit resolution. Local control is done through a Logitech diNovo Mini Bluetooth keyboard with 100ft. range and a Media Center IR remote.

The Sunfire TGM-100 Theater Grand media server is an expandable server/client-and-hard-drive system for storing, managing, and playing movies and music. Control is handled through the built-in web interface, allowing full media management through both Macs and PCs including remote monitoring and diagnostics. The configuration can scale up to six individual independent zones for listening and viewing. Connections include HDMI 1.3a for up to 1080p video output, component for up to 1080i, DVI with the touchpanel interface, S-Video, and composite. For audio, there are stereo RCAs, coax/optical for digital audio, two eSATA, two USB 2.0, one Gigabit Ethernet, IR input, and bidirectional RS-232.

VidaBox Magnum

VidaBox Magnum

The Magnum media center from VidaBox is designed for high-end home theaters. It offers a distinctive motorized 12.1in. touchscreen and up to 9TB of internal media storage with RAID 5 for more than 1300 hours of HDTV content, 25,500 lossless CDs, or more than 1,300 DVDs. The unit is rackmountable, and it provides video in 1080p with HDCP, HDMI 1.2, and DVI along with component video in 1080i, S-Video, and composite. The audio outputs include six mini jack outs for 7.1 surround, optical S/PDIF, and coaxial S/PDIF. Standard storage is 750GB without RAID, and the chassis includes a dual-layer DVD±RW/CD-RW burner. The Magnum can be configured to house both NTSC and ATSC TV tuners in either a black anodized aluminum or silver brushed-aluminum chassis with Windows Vista Ultimate installed.

The Xantech XMusic digital music server is designed for easy connectivity with portable MP3 devices with a network-connected computer through its built-in web browser interface. It can store up to 2,800 hours of music in compressed formats such as MP3 or WMA or 250 hours in uncompressed WAV. This interface can be used to browse by artist, title, album, or genre and to create custom playlists. Four independent listening areas can be configured, and presets can be activated from standard keypads and remotes.

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