Media Servers - What are they ?


24-February-2012

It's awesome. What's not awesome about the internet: no big screen, no HD, no home theater experience, no easy interface designed to sift through the mountains of TV shows, movies, and content available online. And the real killer: no remote. If only there was a device that brought the freedom of the Internet to your HDTV in stunning 1080p, Dolby Surround Sound, and had a slick interface to simplify everything and a remote to put it all at the tips of your fingers…here comes the media server.

A media server is the critical bridge between the Internet and your home entertainment system, letting you enjoy the wonderful variety of entertainment available on the Internet from the comfort of your couch! It is also known as media streamer, media tank, media receiver and more, but the main thing is that it connects your home theater to the Internet. It can be called a media server or networked media player. Note the emphasis on networked – a media server is networked by implication.

Before the media server became the efficient and feature packed box that it is now, enthusiasts used to build (and some still do) their own media servers using a PC. Compared to most media servers now available, building your own is more expensive and the resulting product can be noisy and consume a lot of power, plus not look so good with your other home theater components.

A lot of media servers now have their own disk drives. The advantage of a local disk drive on your media server is that you store media for later viewing or listening. This can be entertainment that you have downloaded from the Internet, your PC or an externally connected device like a digital camera or camcorder. As a guide, 500 gigabytes (GB) will hold approximately 125,00 songs in MP3 format or about 200,000 digital photos or nearly 200 hours of DVD video or around 60 hours of HD video. Of course, if your media has more disk capacity, say 1 terabyte (TB) or 1000 GB, then you can roughly double these numbers as a guide.

There are a number of popular media servers. Apple TV, D-Link Boxee Box, Lacie LaCinema, Netgear Entertainer Elite, Iomega Screenplay Director, Roku HD-XR and Western Digital TV Live Plus are some of the popular ones. Most of these media servers pack a punch despite its diminutive sizes. What we should look for when purchasing one are:
• Networking capabilities ( Ethernet ,Wifi , etc )

• Hardwware compatibility ( Disk Storage, Video/Audio inputs and outputs, USB )

• Multimedia formats supports (AVC, AVI, VOB, M2T, MKV, MOV, MP4, H.264,MPEG-1/2/4,VC-1,WMV9, Xvid, BMP, GIF, JPG ,etc.. )

• Online services such as video on demand

• Protocols supports

• And of course its price, our budget and value for money

D-Link’s Boxee Box has got an innovative design and provides one of the best ways to watch movies, TV shows and clips from the Internet on your TV. It has a small and cute footprint. All you need is a TV with an HDMI input and an Internet connection, and Boxee Box will take care of the rest. Equipped with an SD card slot, (2) USB ports, an optical digital audio connector, HDMI output and an 802.11n wireless equipped Ethernet port, there isn’t much Boxee Box can’t plug into. The Boxee Box’s remote comes with a full QWERTY keypad and it can also be controlled by using your iPhone or Android phone.

As the fibre link to Seychelles gets closer to becoming a reality, these media servers will become very popular amongst local internet enthusiasts and with a broadband link with Kokonet there shall be no limits!

Sponsored by Kokonet

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