A Revolution in Home Entertainment Systems – Touchscreens & Media Servers

The home entertainment system has evolved a lot from the days when you ooh’ed and ahh’ed when your neighbor had a couple of speakers that were seamlessly into the walls of his home. This is no longer the case. Even homes in comparatively modest new developments are equipped with all the necessary television, audio, networks phones and phone wiring. In many developments , the builder provides a basic wiring bundle and various upgrades for additional wiring, speakers enclosures for wiring and complete control systems.

Systems have developed to include sleek wall-mounted touch screens that give you easy access to your music and other house functions like lighting, security HVAC, and windows that are controlled by motors. A talented programmer can make these systems function using “one touch” simplicity. It’s almost as if they’re reading your thoughts.

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The touch screen’s advantage is that it is able to alter the interface of control to only display what you require at any time. This allows for a wide range of flexibility yet still preserving the simplicity that users want. The touchscreen interface is extremely powerful when coupled to another technological advancement that’s gained prominence recently; the hard disc media server.
Your CDs are downloaded or ripped, onto a hard drive. This allows the entire music catalog to be displayed via a touch screen for quick searching. It is possible to search for songs for songs by artist, song title or genre or album. Once you have the selection you are looking for is discovered, you simply need to tap it to the screen and it starts to play.

These servers utilize computer hard drives as well as modern compression techniques to store huge quantities of music within simple audio components smaller that half of the dimensions a 200-disc CD changer. They work the same way as a standard CD player, not your computer, so they are reliable and easy to use.

Media servers have seen a massive increase in popularity in recent years due to the massive popularity of compression music formats like MP3 and the fantastic array of functionality a disc based system provides.
If you own, or own, CD mega changers, a hard drive music server can be like an air freshener.

Access to any song is usually just a few seconds from you. Compare this to choosing disc 94 of your 300-disc CD changer , when you’re using disc 201. With a multi-room audio system it could be that you’re at the other end of your house trying to complete this task using a keypad or remote control. The wait for your player to turn off the disc it was playing and then the carousel until you reach your preferred disc could appear to be a long time.

Another benefit is the ease of cataloging. A majority of hard drive systems recognize the CD you insert to recording, but if not then they connect to the internet to gain access to a massive database. The database is accessed instantly to collect tracks, artist and album information. Gone are the days of using a keyboard or remote to slog through the data regarding your CDs into a CD changer. You can also stop worrying about which slot your CDs are located in. “Let’s see, was Led Zeppelin IV in slot 90 or 190?”
A hard drive server frees up your CDs for use in other places, such as your boat, car or your holiday home.

In addition, since your CDs do not lock into a changer and your collection is not locked up, it’s able to be enjoyed by several members of the family at one time. With a changer, if you are listening to it and the discs in it are off limits. With a changer it is not just possible to have your CDs available for use in other locations but many hard drive servers can provide several audio outputs.

Multiple outputs allow you to listen to different music in different areas of the house in the event that your system is configured. For example, one person could be enjoying Korn in the living room while Bach’s Requiem is playing in the kitchen, and Dire Straights at night in the room. If you have a traditional CD changer, this is impossible.

You can also buy and store music on many online music sites and store those on your server for storage.
Hard drive servers provide advantages over music files stored on computers as well. Since they function as an ordinary audio component and are therefore easier to use for the majority of people. It’s also easier to integrate them with touch screen based home control systems. This will begin to change with the rise in popularity of multimedia PCs such as ones that run Microsoft XP Media Center Edition 2005 rises.

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

They allow storage of digital images for display on your monitor or TV. HTPCs are able to, naturally surf the internet through the internet connection. As storage for hard drives becomes more economical and compression techniques become better, the storage of HD videos and HDTV programming will become commonplace.

Soon these types of servers and interfaces will become an everyday thing rather than an exception. You’ll be amazed by the array of features that are offered, and the ability to use your multimedia collection throughout your home. It was once a rare thing, but today, media servers, in various forms are present in virtually every home.

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