The State of the Solidstate

The digital media server: what was a fledgling category five years ago is now an essential component in a custom home installation.
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The digital media server: what was a fledgling category five years ago is now an essential component in a custom home installation.

The digital media server: what was a fledgling category five years ago is now an essential component in a custom home installation. The popularity of the iPod has clued average consumers into the possibilities of digital music, now manufacturers are enhancing their products to exceed those expectations. Additionally, technological advancements continue to lower prices increase storage capacity. Here is a selection of some robust media servers that can access, store, and organize digital A/V content in the home.

ELAN Home Systems' new DVD management solution, the VIA!dvdj, lets users manage their entire DVD collections from any VIA! touchpanel or TV in the home. Previewed by ELAN dealers at the TRIO Summit in May, VIA!dvdj will ship in Q3 2005 for $2,650 MSRP. Compatible Sony DVP-CX777ES 400-disc DVD changers are also available from ELAN for $799 each MSRP. ELAN is also shipping three differentiated models of its VIA!dj music server, offering good, better, and best options for custom installers. Visit

Integra's NAS-2.6 multi-zone Net-Tune audio server is capable of ripping, storing, and distributing more than 2,000 of hours of music. The unit streams audio to up to 12 Net-Tune client devices and features four independent zone outputs for fixed/variable line-level distribution to conventional audio gear. Visit

Russound's new Smart Media Server SMS3-250 gives homeowners more storage capacity than its predecessor with a 250GB hard drive as well as options for playing digital music and displaying digital pictures virtually anywhere in the home. Available immediately, the SMS3-250 sells for $3,399 MAP. Visit

Sonance's iPort lets clients stream digital music and digital photo collections throughout the entire home using their iPods as a central source. iPort provides quick docking and access to the iPod photo, iPod mini, and fourth generation iPod with Click Wheel (40GB, 20GB only). Also charges the iPod while it is docked.

SkipJam's iMedia is a network attached media solution--an all-digital home entertainment system that combines whole-house audio and video distribution with digital recording and home control. SkipJam's iMedia technology makes a complete whole-house AV system achievable starting under $800 (estimated street price) over any standard wired or wireless home network. Integrates PVR, DVR, live streaming, universal remote control, On-TV PC access, analog device switching, and more. Visit

ReQuest, who just celebrated the fifth anniversary of the company's first product, the AudioReQuest ARQ 1, is shipping a special edition AudioRequest Fusion, the F400P, which allows clients to store music on a 400GB hard drive and access web-content within a multi-zone network. Visit

Indigita Corporation has introduced a high-definition media server called VELOCITY. This home entertainment system features a high-definition video recorder designed for use with new integrated HDTV's from manufactures such as Toshiba, RCA, Mitsubishi, as well as other major manufactures launching DTV Link compatible products later this year. Visit

Sonos's Digital Music System is a whole-house, multi-zone digital music system with a wireless, full-color LCD screen controller. Visit

Hauppauge's MediaMVP allows PC-based music, video, and pictures to be played anywhere in the home over a home local area network. Priced as low as $80 per unit in OEM quantities, it connects to a home's Cat 5e and can be installed within a wall or ceiling inside a junction box. Speakers, video monitors, TVs and other playback devices are then linked to MediaMVP via a wall outlet for whole-house media. Visit

Escient's new FireBall DVDM-300 Media Management system, which will be available for $4,999 SRP, is the first product to unite Escient's music management with its DVD management in a single home media server with enhanced features and capabilities. Visit

NAD's first media server, the NetCap Network Player, treats the PC network as another AV source and delivers any designated content to the television screen, including music and video files that can be heard in complete surround sound. Visit

DigitalDeck's DigitalDeck Entertainment Network consists of an entertainment center and ancillary components that create a whole-house A/V chain. When installed, it will control whole home DVR, A/V, security, and more. Visit

SpeakerCraft's MZC/iPod Interface kit is designed to control all iPod models with dock connector. The naviPod provides five commands; volume up, volume down, pause/play, next track, and previous track, and includes a 5-button infrared remote control and a receiver unit. Also included is an IR emitter and four iPod replacement buttons. This kit combined with the MZC-66 Multi-Zone Controller and provides several additional codes to add more functions than are available with the naviPod alone. Visit

Kaleidescape Inc. has introduced two new Kaleidescape Entertainment Servers featuring a myriad of new advancements including new software (version 2.4--an automatic upgrade for existing customers), 100/1000Base-T Gigabit Ethernet connectivity, and 400GB hard discs. The new KS3000 System can accommodate simultaneous video streams to as many as five independent zones; the KS3500 System can stream more than 25. Pricing now starts at $22,500. Visit

Leviton Manufacturing Company and Dedicated Devices have united to build a residential multimedia system that installs as part of a home's structured wiring system--the Leviton Entertainment and Applications Platform (LEAP). LEAP provides access, management, and distribution of digital music, video, and photos throughout the home with either electronic devices or computers. Visit

Onkyo's DS-A1 Remote Interactive Dock provides integration of iPod audio playback and photo display with the company's home entertainment systems, including the ability to control these functions with the existing Onkyo remote control. Because it employs the company's RI system, the DS-A1 dock is backwards-compatible with most of the Onkyo components manufactured in the past decade. Visit

AMX's MAX Integrated Media Server (IMS) and MultiMedia Server (MMS) allow users to build and control a library of CDs and DVDs, and to instantly play the stored discs simultaneously, from different integrated environments. Built with an internal hard drive with up to 7.2 terabytes of storage, the IMS has the capacity to burn, categorize and manage thousands of CDs. The MMS can rip, store and manage hundreds of DVDs and CDs. Visit

CoNEXTion Systems's digital Ambience 1010 music server is an ethernet- and Linux-based server featuring omnilala software. It can play different music streams in multiple rooms simultaneously. The 1010 features dual 200GB hard drives for storing music and auto-synchronized back-up. Visit

Linn's Knekt Kivor is a hard-drive-based archive and retrieval system which includes the KIVOR TUNBOKS, capable of storing and playing back up to 2760 hours of (uncompressed) music and can be concurrently accessed by up to 16 users. Visit

ADA's iHome MultiCenter provides two-way communication with ADA's LCD keypads with IP-based control of ADA's audio devices and third-party A/V and automation subsystems. Visit

HomeLogic's MediaBrick is a rack-mountable home controller and digital music server which delivers multiple digital audio streams to an audio zone controller or any other audio component. Visit

Meda Systems's Brvo is a fully integrated, networked whole-house music system. With up to 24 digital-quality outputs, one Brvo server can play a homeowner's entire media library in all zones throughout the home at any time or simultaneously. Incorporates Meda's proprietary MZSync technology. Visit

Philips's new Streamium WiFi products add PC and Internet content (pictures, music, videos, and games) to the home entertainment configuration. The Streamium family includes complete WiFi systems (home entertainment and hifi micro) and Multi-Media Links to enhance clients' existing TV and stereo systems. Visit

Xabler's Digital Music Server (DMS) 2.0 lets homeowners rip music from CDs and upload digital music files, control with any touchscreen or PDA with a Web browser, stream music to an audio system, PC, handheld or across the Internet. Available as a stand-alone or Xabler UCS add-on. Visit

Xperinet's XperinetMIRV is a video and audio server that incorporates storage of VHS, DVD, and CD content. MIRV allows users to store movies and music for playback supporting up to 20 independent simultaneous zones. Built on a Linux/AMD platform, MIRV can store up to 1,600 movies and/or 17,000 CDS on a fault tolerant Raid 5 disk array. Visit

Yamaha's MusicCAST system is capable of storing 1000 CDs and distributing content wirelessly throughout a home. The server's self-contained 80GB hard drive provides instant access to digital music; music is saved to the hard drive in its original quality from CDs or external inputs, then converted to MP3 (160k/256k/320kbps compression rates) for broadcasting to MusicCAST client devices. Visit

Arrakis's DC6 hard disk audio jukebox offers six players and one recorder in a compact rack mount cabinet. Each of the six players can play the same song, a different song, synched or at different points. Each player even has both an analog and digital output to support diverse installations. Includes eight RS232 serial control ports on the back of the cabinet. Third-party adapters can convert the serial control port to an ethernet port for network control. Visit

Axonix's MediaMax is a multi-room multimedia entertainment system that offers DVD, CD, and photo gallery capacity. It's customizable and integrates with Crestron, AMX, and other control systems. Also allows TV recording; MediaMax's PVR is cable and satellite TV compatible and programmable. Visit

Control4's Media Controller is a mid-market prices audio server offering storage, wireless audio distribution, with the ability to control any automated function in the home. Visit

Imerge's SoundServer S2000 mkII accesses the Internet for album, artist, and track information as well as album cover illustration. Offers choice of storage options--audio storage in a variety of formats both compressed and uncompressed. Plays directly from CD or from the hard disk library and provides the choice of one to four discrete outputs. Optional support for Imerge NP200 Network Audio Player to stream audio over a home network. Visit

M&S's Xtreme Digital Music System is an expandable integrated four-zone digital audio system offering six-music sources as well as communication functions throughout the home. Consists of the XDM46K Xtreme Digital Music Keypad, DS3B2 Front door station, XDM46R Xtreme Digital Music Universal Remote, and XDM46CC Xtreme Digital Music Central Controller. Each zone contains a class D amplifier and 60 watts (30 watts per channel). Visit

Mcintosh's MS300 is a 300GB music server with integrated web interface capabilities. Streams music files over a home network to remote locations on ethernet enabled devices. Can hold more than 800 CDs at full sound quality through lossless compression; alternate selection of the MP3 compression system allow the MS300 to hold up to 50,000 songs with good quality. Visit