5 Basic Hardware Considerations for a Home Media Server
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Technology has been taking major leaps over the past few years and the benefits of that fact are obvious. Everything we use in our daily lives is smaller, smarter and is getting more practical by the day; from communications to entertainment, we have a gadget for everything. With the internet age upon us; computer networking and computers themselves have gotten much faster and offer a lot more at a better price than what it was just a few years ago. This means that every form of media, be it photos, music or video, is easily accessible.
Now, the amount of media for someone working in a field involving multimedia or a small family can work out to be massive. To manage all of it can be quite cumbersome at time, especially if it needs to be shared amongst other computers or devices. To take care of that aspect and to make things easier on the whole, a home media server is the best way to go.
Of course, a home media server can be anything from an advanced gaming console to a complex all-encompassing server. Selecting the right home media server depends on the type of application it will be subject to and the number of users it will have. So before you start zeroing in on a home media server, here are some points to consider.
1) Media type.
2) Processing power and storage.
5) After Sales Support.
1) Media Type
First up, is the type of media you intend to store and use. This also involves how often you will need it. If you have a family who actively use music, photos and video; you will need a home media server capable of running all the popular file formats and provision for upgrading the software to suit newer formats.
For audio, make sure the home media server you select supports surround sound, purchasing tracks or albums and streaming sources if needed. For videos and television, you need to make sure you can purchase the television channels and movies you want. Also look for the video formats supported because videos today use several more formats including a choice of 480p/i, 720p or the full HD 1080p/i resolution. The better the resolution, the larger the files. For this purpose, you will need not just a large amount of storage but also a good amount of processing power.
2) Processing Power and Storage
As mentioned above, if you are looking for a home media server for the family; you will need to find a system which includes a good processor, preferably a stable, but high speed dual core CPU as well as a lot of storage.
On the contrary, if you’re a multimedia professional or someone in a similar field, you will need loads of storage, but not as much processing power. It’s best to opt for an affordable yet dependable system which offer good expansion possibilities. Or, if you’re looking for making the most of internet content like Flickr, NetFlix, YouTube or Pandora or rent television shows or movies, some great low cost options are Boxee or Iomega ScreenPlay Director HD.
Now there are several systems which offer a great combination of storage and functionality like HP’s MediaSmart Server and Apple TV; which allow you to do pretty much everything with multimedia. You can watch movies and TV shows, listen to music as well as play them from a computer. You can also access all forms of entertainment from the internet.
You can even use gaming consoles like Sony’s PlayStation 3 or Microsoft’s Xbox 360; but they have their limitations when it comes to using your computer, displaying photos and making purchases for television, music and video.
This is an important aspect to consider when deciding on a home media server. How much you spend on one should be proportional to the features, functionality and quality it offers. From those mentioned above; Apple TV is the easiest to get used to, has a high level of functionality and is available for just about $100. Boxee and Iomega have products for under $250, while a gaming console will cost you between $300-400 depending on what accessories you select. The HP MediaSmart Server costs almost $2,500 but offers everything you need for a complete home media server.
5) After Sales Support
This is also quite an important point to consider. A home media server can just have something go wrong with it somewhere down the line. If or when that happens, you should be sure that the company’s help and support staff will be accessible and helpful be it via phone or online.
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