Touchscreens & Media Servers

The home entertainment system has come a long way since you ooh’ ed and ahh’ed because your neighbor had a few pairs of speakers that fit flush into the walls of his home. This is no longer the case. Even houses in modest new developments are being outfitted with the full range of audio, network, TV phones and phone wiring. In many new developments, the builder comes with a standard wiring package and various upgrades to add additional speakers, wiring and wiring enclosures, as well as full control systems.

Systems have been upgraded to include sleek, wall-mounted touch screens that permit easy access to home’s functions, including music, like security, lighting HVAC, and automated window treatment. A skilled programmer can enable these systems to function with a true “one touch” simplicity. It’s like they’re reading your brain.

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The advantage of the touch screen is that it allows you to change the control interface to only display what you require at any time. This provides a huge amount of flexibility, and simplicity that people are looking for. The touch screen interface is extremely powerful when coupled together with another tech that’s gained popularity recently, the hard disc-based media server.
The CDs you download are saved, or ripped, to an external hard drive. This combination allows your entire music collection to be displayed on the touch screen for quick searching. You are able to typically search by artist, song’s title or genre, or even album. When you’ve found the one you’re looking for, once it’s found, just tap it on the screen , and it starts playing.

These servers utilize computer hard drives , as well as the latest compression methods to store huge amounts of music on an audio component that is smaller that half of the dimensions a 200 disc CD changer. They work just like a typical CD player, not like your computer, which is why they’re reliable and easy to use.

Media servers have been exploding in popularity in recent years due to the immense popularity of compressed music formats like MP3 as well as the incredible array of functionality a disc based system provides.
For those who have, or have, mega changers, a hard drive music server is like breathing fresh air.

The ability to access every song is usually less than a second from you. Compare this to choosing disc 94 from your 300-disc CD changer when you’re streaming disc 201. With a multi-room audio system it is possible that you are at the other end of your home trying to complete this task using an electronic keypad or remote. The waiting for your recorder to retrieve the disc it was playing and then the carousel until you reach your desired disc can seem like a lifetime.

Another benefit is the ease of cataloging. Many hard drive systems recognize the CD you insert to ripping and if they don’t connect to the internet and have access to a giant database. This they access automatically to get artist, album and track information. There is no need for using a remote or keyboard to manually input the information about your CDs into your CD changer. You don’t have to be concerned about which slot the discs are placed in. “Let’s see, was Led Zeppelin IV in slot 90 or 190?”
Utilizing a server for your hard drive frees up your CDs for use elsewhere such as your car, boat or vacation home.

In addition, since the discs you own aren’t locked up in a changer, your collection is able to enjoy the attention of several members of your family all at once. With a changer, if someone is listening to it, all of the discs within it are out of reach. With a changer, not only are your discs accessible for use at other locations, but many hard drive servers provide several audio outputs.

Multiple outputs let you listen to different music in various areas of your home If your system is designed. For example an individual could be listening to Korn in the rec room while Bach’s Requiem is playing in the kitchen and Dire Straights in the bedroom. With a conventional CD changer it is not possible.

You can also purchase and store music from various online music services and store music on your server for storage.
Hard drive servers can offer benefits over music files that are stored on computers, too. Because they function like an analog audio component which is why they are easy to use for many people. It is also simpler to integrate them with touch screen based home control systems. This is likely to change when the demand for multimedia PCs such as ones running Microsoft XP Media Center Edition 2005 grows.

These units are several steps closer to delivering the long promise of “convergence” between consumer electronics and computers. Multimedia PCs also referred to in the form of HTPCs”Home Theater PC] function as DVD players, individual video recorders (similar to a TiVO) as well as storage for media on hard drives.

They allow storage of digital images that can be easily displayed on your television or monitor. HTPCs are able to, naturally browse the web on your TV via your broadband connection. As storage on hard drives becomes more affordable and compression techniques become better, the storage of HD videos and HDTV programming will become standard.

Soon , these kinds of interfaces and servers will be more of the norm than the exception. You’ll be amazed by the incredible array of features provided and the possibility to effortlessly access your media collection across your home. Once a rarity, media servers in one form or another, will be found in virtually every home.

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