Saying goodbye to the computer hard drive and hello, A/V server
By David Dritsas
Despite the mainstream decline of free music downloading, the popularity of compressing music and storing it on a hard disk is still growing. And though the habit began on the PC, the powers that be in the audio/video industry are trying to push people away from the desktop and onto dedicated hard disk-based components. The benefit of a dedicated device is that it doesn't require as much processing power as a PC, which needs to perform a lot more tasks and experiences a lot more wear-and-tear. These devices also boast better versatility when it comes to connecting to A/V control systems and better components that make them high-quality source devices.
This year there are several on the market. Most are concentrated on audio, though video is creeping into the mix. And whether you believe that MP3s are good or evil, there is no doubt that the server is here to stay.
Denon NS-100 Multimedia Server
MSRP: $4,000-$4,500, estimated price
Runs on: Mediabolic One
What's inside: Two 120 Gbyte hard drives (one that is removable using a port on the front), a multizone controller, two independent DVRs that use the ReplayTV electronic program guide (without the monthly fee), dual NTSC/analog-cable tuners, two FM radio tuners and a built-in CD player.
How it works: Denon's NS-100 can store music and video on its two built-in hard drives and then distribute that content across an Ethernet network to up to four Denon NS-C200 multimedia clients. Users can switch between clients and, for example, pause live TV in one room and pick it up in another room from the point at which the program was paused. Currently only music,
digital images and analog video can be recorded to the drives, although the NS100 can stream (but not store) DVD quality video from connected DVD players to client devices. The built-in CD drive automatically rips CDs and preforms title naming by downloading the information from Gracenote. Content from PCs on the network can also be viewed and streamed to the clients. Other NS-100 servers can be added to the network, thus expanding the number of clients, as well.