Digital Media Servers
Digital media servers can bridge the gap between your PC and your home theater.
A media server is a device that lets you send (stream) photos, music, and video to your television or to other PCs in your home. Most people have some MP3 files on their PC or Mac; either from CD's they've ripped or from music they've purchased from an online store.
personally have over 4.7 GB's of music on my Mac. Thats roughly 7,250 files and about 80 hours of listening time. With a digital media server, I could stream that music right into my home theater's AV receiver and listen to it in my living room.
A digital media server can let you stream home movies to your television and show them to your family and friends. What about movies or TV shows you download from the web? As long as the media player supports the same encoding method (the xvid codec, for example), then you're can watch that show you missed with on your television instead of on your PC's monitor. In fact, streaming video is what media servers excel at.
There are generally two types of media servers.Windows Media Center PCs (HTPC)
Some media servers are built around full-fledged PC's. They tend to have a ton of features, be quite large, and equally expensive. These are built around Microsoft's Windows Media Center Edition while others are built around Linux or another operating system.Wireless Media Servers
Most wireless media servers generally have all the connectors you'll need to plug it into your home theater setup. The following connectors are typical in a fully-featured media server:
- Component audio and video
- Digital optical and coax audio outputs
Wireless media servers also generally support 802.11b/g and a wired LAN connection of 100Mpbs. The latest crop of media servers now feature built-in hard drives so you can store your media directly on the device for easy access later.
Sporting a remote control, these media servers are pretty straightforward to use and can be a great compliment to your existing home theater gear.