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 Media Centers are moving into living rooms ...

After the digital revolution of the world of media, with its digital memories like DVDs, large hard disk drives, flash memories, and adherent new formats (mpeg, mp3, divx) the doors are open to home entertainment.

HDTV sets and HD recorders are almost standard by now. iPod and other media players supersede the old hi-fi systems.

Hence "Media-Center" are becoming more important as central devices for management and playback of our media data and due to their low price they are also becoming more popular. There are already many different concepts, devices, and systems in the market.

media-center start

The Danish manufacturer KISS (now Linksys) has been selling network-compatible media players and hard-drive recorders, for years. They are based on Linux system software even allowing web servers to be integrated. Needless to say that Internet radio, EPG (electronic program guide), and worldwide weather forecasts are provided as well.

Microsoft attempts to position itself with the renewed " Media Center Edition" of Win XP and turns even the Xbox into a media streamer with its new Windows Vista. Sony presented its new game console PlayStation 3 (PS3) with a Blu-ray player. The storage space of the one-sided Blu-ray disc is up to 25 GB gigantic, so far 4.7 GB have been the limit for DVDs. As streaming functions are also included in the PS3 the game console can be used as a media server. Hence, the PS3 is currently a Blu-ray player of lowest price (about 600 ).

NAS (Network Attached Storage) hard disk drives with disc memories of 500 GB and more are already being manufactured with integrated media servers and Linux systems.
The Taiwanese manufacturer QNAP won the award "Best Design and Best Buy" at for integrating the media server "TwonkyMedia" into NAS HDDs "TS-101" and "TS-201".

And with its Viiv™ Intel tries to accomplish standardisation of hardware, software and license management. A couple of other manufacturers apparently follow.

As the marked is quite complex we would like to bring some clearness into the corresponding terms and technology and furthermore to give a market overview regarding " Media-Center", "Media Center PCs" (HTPC) and media servers.

» What is a media center?

TV sets, recorders, DVD players, hi-fi systems - Media-Center replace your entire electronic equipment.

With a remote control you control playback of your films or mp3 audio data as well as recording of your favourite series using the "electronic program guide" via Internet.

Media-Center can be purpose-built (e.g. KiSS VR-558) or media center PCs, which are personal computers enhanced by Microsoft's "Media Center Edition".

Network Attached Storage (NAS) multimedia servers with huge hard disk drives allow streaming to all kinds of appliances via WLAN.

WLAN radios / phones / loudspeaker systems are also available.

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