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Technology Showcase: Home Media Servers

Storage and playback options for residential audio and video.

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 MediaServer Pro RAID 6

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.

Buffalo Technology LinkStation Mini

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.

CasaTunes XL music server

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.

Colorado Vnet Vibe Video System

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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Technology Showcase: Home Media Servers

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

Storage and playback options for residential audio and video.

Crestron Electronics’ ADMS-BR Adagio

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.

Escient Vision VS-200

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.

Fusion Research Genesis

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.

Kaleidescape Ksystem-120

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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Technology Showcase: Home Media Servers

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

Storage and playback options for residential audio and video.

Life|ware Life|media

The Life|media media center server from Life|ware is powered by Intel processors and operates on Windows Vista to store up to 4TB of movies, music, and photographs. The unit can be configured to include either a CableCard, NTSC, or ATSC TV tuner and use a DVD or Blu-ray drive. With Life|media, up to four separate programs can be recorded simultaneously, and live TV can be paused and rewound. There are nine different audio and video configuration options including analog 7.1 channel and optical audio with Dolby Home Theater decoding. Video output connections include HDMI, DVI-I, component, composite, and S-Video on all models. The LMS-200/250 also has a VGA video output and uses Windows Vista Home Premium, and the LMS-300/350, LMS-400/450, and LMS-500/550 run on Windows Vista Ultimate. All available models are 3RU tall and use Nvidia graphics cards.

The NMH300 media hub from Linksys is for storing and playing video, photos, and music using a web-based interface for local or remote media browsing. The unit can house SATA drives in two drive bays, and the included automated backup software allows manual and continuous automatic backup of all stored media through RAID 1/JBOD configurations. There are two USB 2.0 ports, an Ethernet 10/100/1000 port, and support for iTunes server. Users can view up to three simultaneous HD streams and operate the control interface for music listening in WMA, MP3, MP4, M4A, 3GP, WAV, OGG, FLAC, AC3, and other formats; view JPEG photos; and watch videos in MP4, MOV, MPG, SPTS, AVI, DivX, MPV, and more.

Meridian Audio Sooloos Ensemble

The Meridian Audio Sooloos Ensemble audio server can be configured with up to 1TB of storage for as many as 2,400 albums in either FLAC or MP3 192kbps format, and these can be backed up to a PC-based hard drive with one-touch control. The removable drive tray holds a 3.5in. SATA 7200 RPM drive. On the rear panel are four analog stereo RCA jacks and a S/PDIF digital audio output. The network connection, either RJ-45 or Neutrik EtherCon, interfaces the unit with the Internet and Sooloos control devices, and there is also a detachable, external auto¬sensing AC adapter. Ensemble and other Sooloos servers can be operated through the new 17in. Control 10 high-contrast, resistive LCD touchpanel and CD importing mechanism. It connects to the system through twisted pair on either RJ-45 or Neutrik EtherCon terminals, and it offers a fanless, noise-free interface with 1280×1024 video resolution.

Niles Audio DMS4

Niles Audio’s DMS4 digital music server records CDs and uses its Ethernet interface to automatically connect to the Gracenote music-recognition service to download album and track details for virtually every CD in the collection to aid in alphanumeric music searches and selection. Its sound file formats include uncompressed WAV, MP3, and WMA. MP3s can be recorded and stored at 320kbps constant bit rate, or 192kbps and 128kbps for selection of storage capacity vs. audio quality. Designed to be controlled with the company’s Intellicontrol ICS, the unit displays CD titles, artist names, and track names on the associated Intellicontrol ICS user interface as soon as the CD is recorded on the system’s 160GB internal hard drive. Customized playlists can be crafted via the front panel, remote control, keypad, or TV interface.

Niveus Media Pro Series

Modularity seems to be the message in the Pro Series servers from Niveus Media. Up to 4TB Seagate Pipeline HD storage enables RAID reliability and up to 500 hours of HD recording, 500 days of continuous digital music, or 2 million high-resolution photos. A 32GB drive is used for the operating system. The Niveus ConvergencePanel contains the audio and video I/O ports on the rear of the unit. The Pro Series uses an Intel Core i7 processor and Nvidia’s GeForce 9 series graphics. Sound is handled through Niveus Pro Audio and 5.1/6.1/7.1 surround with 192kHz/24-bit output and a 120dB signal-to-noise ratio. Control interfaces include an external IR receiver with two IR blaster ports used to control cable or satellite set-top boxes, a rear RS-232 serial port, and an Ethernet 10/100/1000 port for third-party software control.

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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.

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

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

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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