In this article I try to give you a brief description of the products and then break down the different products and highlight their features.

Media Center, Music Server, Video Server? What do I need?

Gregg Cannon | Cannon PC

Media Center, Music Server, Video Server? What do I need?

Author: Gregg Cannon - Cannon PC


What has been confusing as the convergence products emerge is the different terms used to describe them.  We hear terms like Media Center, Video Server, Music Server, Home Theater PC, Media Server, whole house audio, video distribution as well as product names like ReQuest, Escient, Kaleidescape. 

It leaves most consumers dazed and confused. 

In this article I try to give you a brief description of the products and then break down the different products and highlight their features.


As an electronics consumer, you've been hearing for years how that someday the A/V industry and the computer industry will converge (or at best get along).  That someday your whole rack of equipment can be reduced to a few small appliance type devices that give you all the capabilities of a room full of equipment.  You'll have the ability to control your lights, HVAC, audio, video, DVDs, and more from a single remote, touch screen devices strategically placed throughout the house or from your phone or office.  Well ... it’s here ... but it is confusing.

Over the past few years I have seen vast improvements between these two industries and their technologies and how they are coming together.  It has been painful to say the least but they are getting there. These two industries, which are separate and still battle over how music and video should be stored, organized, played, and streamed, are finally burying the hatchet and are working together to provide simple but powerful integrated solutions for customers.

Some of the reasons for this new “friendly” alliance have been the consumer.  We, as consumers, are requesting less equipment, less complication and friendly interfaces.  Since most of our media is digital, it makes sense for the A/V industry to work closely with the computer industry to make this happen.  Especially since the computer industry has always been digital.

What has been confusing as the convergence products emerge is the different terms used to describe them.  We hear terms like Media Center, Video Server, Music Server, Home Theater PC, Media Server, whole house audio, video distribution as well as product names like ReQuest, Escient, Kaleidescape. 

It leaves most consumers dazed and confused. 

Do I need a Media Center or Media Server? What is the difference?

In this article I try to give you a brief description of the products and then break down the different products and highlight their features.

Let’s start with general definitions.

Music Server - Most music servers are just what they say they are, Music Servers.  They store and organize you digital music and allow you to play it locally or in multiple zones in a home (depending on the hardware and software you purchase with the system as an option)

Video Server - A video server, like a music server, is designed to serve up video content.  In the case of ReQuest and Kaleidescape, they can control DVD jukes boxes to allow you to store your DVDs and play them through specialized controllers to other rooms in the house.  There are some 3rd party applications that allow PCs (Media Centers) to copy DVDs to the hard drive and play them to other PCs or extenders in the home.  Due to current DRM laws in the U.S., this method is in violation of the copyright and usage law of the DVD.  So commercially this cannot be done.  Privately this is a VERY common practice.

Media Center – A Media Center is usually referred Media Center PC, HTPC or Media PC.  The term usually refers to a personal computer running Microsoft Vista Media Center.  There are other variations like SageTV and Media Portal but all in all they are PC based systems that allow the storing and playback of music, photos, videos and TV.

The table below is a brief listing of some of the features available on the different Media Convergence products.  This table is designed to give you an overview of each product and the general capabilities to help you make your decisions when trying to decide when type system is best for you.  Other things to consider are things like how long has the company been in business, pricing, support and compatibility.  Remember that one solution may be perfect for one user and may not be for another.

 

Item

ReQuest
IQ IMS

Escient
Fireball MX752

Kaleidescape
KSERVER-5000

Cannon
LX Series  MediaCenter

TiVo

Cable DVR

Apple iTV

Pricing (approximate MSRP)

$7,000

$5,999

$17,000

$3,999

$300

Free with signup

$329

Category

Music Server

Music / Video Server

Music / Video Server

Media Center

Media Server

Set top Box / Media Server

Media Server

VIDEO FEATURES (TV,DVD, PHOTO)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Security Cameras

Yes

HR,SR

Internet TV

Yes

Record TV

Yes

Yes

Yes

Record HDTV

Yes

Yes

Yes

TV DVR (Play, Record, Rewind)

Yes

Yes

Yes

Max tuners

6

2

2-4

Record Digital Cable

Yes

Yes

Yes

Multi Zone Video Playback

Yes

Yes

Multi Zone DVD Playback

Yes HR

Yes

Play Photos

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

Store Photos

Yes

Yes

Store Videos

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

Store DVDs

Yes

Yes

SR

Burn Recorded TV to DVD or Blu-Ray

Yes

Yes

Movies On Demand (download)

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

DVD Changer Support

Yes

Yes

Yes

Play DVD Disks

Yes

Yes

Yes

Play Blu-Ray Disks

Yes HR

Yes

Home Automation Capable

HR, SR

Monthly Cost for EPG

FREE

$12.95

$7.00

AUDIO/MUSIC FEATURES

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Digital Cable Radio

Yes

Yes

Yes

 FM Radio

Yes

Yes

Internet Radio

Yes

SR

Yes

Store Music CDs

Yes

Yes

Yes

WMA Format (48-192kbps)

Yes

Yes

Yes

WMA Pro (32-192 Kbps)

Yes

Yes

WMA Var Bit Rate (40-355 kbps)

Yes

Yes

Windows Lossless (940 kbps)

Yes

Yes

MP3 (128-320 kbps)

Yes

Yes

Yes

WAV Lossless

Yes

Yes

Yes

FLAC

Yes

Yes

AAC

Yes

Yes*

Stream Music

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

Multi Zone Audio Playback

HR

Yes

Yes

XM Radio

Yes

Yes

Sync with iTunes

Yes SR

Yes*

Yes

Whole House Audio

HR

HR

MISC FEATURES

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Check Sports Scores

Yes

Yes

Yes

Manage Fantasy Football Players

Yes

Check Weather

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

Browse the Internet

Yes

Check Email

Yes

Play Games

Yes

Yes

Instant Message

Yes

Parental Control

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

Calendar

Yes

Yes

Upgradeable (internal components)

Yes

Access PC Network Files

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

Storage Capacity (max)

1.5 TB

750 GB

100 TB

4 TB

250 GB

250 GB

160 GB

1 NetSync application required
* MCETunes Application required
HR – Additional hardware required to perform this function or capability
SR – Additional Software Required

NOTE: - All information contained in this document is for informational purposes only.  Any person should consult a local authorized dealer or representative for each of the products recommended to obtain product information and pricing.  Information is subject to change.

Company Web Sites:
Escient – www.escient.com
Kaleidescape – www.kaleidescape.com
ReQuest – www.request.com
CannonPC – www.cannonpc.com
TiVo – www.tivo.com
Comcast – www.comcast.com
Apple – www.apple.com

 


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