Lifeware Maker Exceptional Innovation Decides to Offer Its Own Media Center Hardware
When HP dropped its A/V component-like Digital Entertainment Center (DEC) line of Windows Media Centers this spring, questions arose for Exceptional Innovation (EI), maker of the Lifeware Windows Vista-based home automation platform. Specifically, considering HP was EI’s most prominent hardware partner, would the software manufacturer rely on another top-tier vendor like Sony to fill the Media Center gap HP left, or would it take a major leap by developing and marketing its own line of Media Centers? With today’s announcement of its Lifemedia servers, EI has definitively answered the second part of that question.
EI’s Lifemedia servers will be available this summer, with prices starting at $4,500. Like HP’s DECs, they resemble A/V components much more than they do PCs. The servers, said EI, are “optimized for complete digital entertainment experiences and comprehensive home automation.” Between 500GB to 4.5TB of storage is provided for home entertainment and automation applications. Various configurations will be available, with different models including support for Digital CableCARD, NTSC/ATSC tuners, DVD RW (HD DVD and Blu-ray support “forthcoming,” said EI), and optical audio with Dolby Master Studio decoding.
“This is the Media Center that empowers a high definition lifestyle,” said Mike Seamons, vice president of marketing for Lifeware. “No one has lived with and done more testing of Media Centers over the past four years than we have, and we have addressed the shortcomings of previous systems along with every other lesson we have learned into the design of these servers. We have always recognized that enjoying your digital entertainment and controlling your home’s environment are wonderfully complementary experiences with Lifeware and Media Center.”
Windows maker Microsoft gave its stamp of approval to EI’s announcement. “Exceptional Innovation has been a terrific leader in creating whole-home media and control solutions,” said Joe Belifore, corporate vice president, entertainment and devices for Microsoft’s eHome division. “Lifeware has been instrumental in bringing MCE (Media Center Edition) into the CEDIA channel, and we are now thrilled to have them as an OEM introducing this line of professional media servers.”