Media Server Roundup Augusta GA
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Media Server Roundup
November 12, 2008 By Dennis Burger
Serve it Up – Audio and Video Servers Galore
Maybe you've got a huge collection of digital music, and you'd really love to listen to it throughout your home, instead of simply on your iPod.
Perhaps you want to rip your DVD collection to disc and secret the cases away in storage.
No matter the particulars, chances are you have digital media you want to enjoy in the more comfortable parts of your home—away from the desktop. Enter media servers.
A few years ago it was a pipedream—the entertainment equivalent of the flying car: always on the horizon, but never in a form that you'd feel safe letting your mother use.
These days, though, there are an embarrassing number of ways to zip your digital media from one end of the house to the other. The task is in finding the right solution for you—and for your media.
IN MICROSOFT WE TRUST
Since most of the digital media that the vast majority of us enjoy originates with, resides on, or in some way interacts with a computer at some point or another, it makes sense that so-called Media Center PCs—computers that function as a disc player, cable box, DVR, internet radio client, online portal, and yes, network media server all wrapped up in one—continue to work their way into living rooms with increased acceptance.
This is especially true since the advent of Windows Vista, which may be reviled by hardcore desktop users, but is a blessing to media junkies who want their digital audio and video served up in style.
Of course, not just any old bargain basement discount PC from the local brick-and-mortar retail outlet will do for Home Entertainment readers. Thankfully, a handful of manufacturers—among them longtime HE favorites Niveus Media, Okoro Media Systems, and Inteset—have perfected the art of building luxury machines for the custom-installation market, with styling and features that extend way beyond the typical out-of-the-box Windows Media Center experience.
Which one is right for you? Again, it depends upon your needs and level of expertise.
Okoro Media Systems offers perhaps the most PC-like Media Centers of the bunch. They still build rock-solid devices built to deliver a unified and uncompromised audiovisual experience, but they offer the sort of flexibility you might expect from a more traditional online PC outlet: your choice of video cards and hard drives and TV tuners and network cards—even alternatives to Windows, if that's what you're looking for.
Inteset, on the other hand, caters to the customer who values security over choice, stability over tweakability. Their Media Center PCs are distributed via select custom installers, and even feature a Secure Lockdown feature that keeps meddling hands away from Windows features that aren't directly related to Media Center.
Niveus's focus, meanwhile, is on pure luxury. You'd be hard pressed to even identify their machines as anything remotely PC related. That, combined with whisper-quiet fa...