ReQuest F2 Media Server System Page 2
After it’s set up on your network, you can access the F2 via its unique IP from any computer in the world, so you can stream your own music library while you travel. Of course, that means you need to leave your ReQuest system running when you aren’t home. In the same vein, if you have ReQuest servers in multiple homes, they can sync with each other automatically. For example, if you rip all of your CDs to the F2 in your home, you can access them on the ReQuest system that’s installed in your vacation getaway.
The IMC is an odd-sized component since it’s about half as wide as the F2 (or any other full-sized rack-mount component for that matter). The addition of the IMC makes the F2 a more complete entertainment experience. It lets you stream video from YouTube, Hulu, and Netflix (account required), and it provides DVD playback. It also has HDMI and digital audio outputs to connect to your home theater system.
In order to fully integrate the IMC with your home network and connect it to the F2, you simply connect a Cat-5 cable to the Ethernet port. You can use up to four IMCs on a 100-megabit home network, but you can integrate up to 15 IMCs into a wholehouse A/V installation if you have a Gigabit home network. Each IMC can connect to a single F2. Unlike other media server systems that require you to add proprietary storage devices to further expand your system, the IMC can access standard Gigabit Ethernet Network Attached Storage (NAS) devices.
You can play CDs and DVDs using the slot-loading optical drive on the IMC’s front panel. However, as I mentioned earlier, it’s best to archive content with the F2’s optical drive. The system upconverts local and archived DVDs for up to 1080p playback via the HDMI and component video outputs simultaneously. This lets your installer distribute two high-definition feeds for playback in two separate locations.
The system isn’t compatible with Blu-ray as of this writing. However, the IMC is scheduled to integrate with Sony’s BDP-CX7000ES 400-disc Blu-ray MegaChanger (HT, February 2010) by press time. Of course, you won’t be able to archive Blu-ray Discs, but you can archive the Digital Copy discs that are included with some Blu-ray titles. The MegaChanger and connection kit will increase the cost of your investment by $1,900.
The IMC comes with a credit-card-sized remote to help you navigate through the well-designed menu. You can also configure an IR learning-capable remote to operate the IMC’s GUI using the four basic directional cursor commands. Once the ReQuest system is configured, you only need to access the IMC’s simple and intuitive menu to access all of your media. You can also configure the IMC’s menu to only show the functions you use. If you don’t plan to access photos, you can just remove the option from the menu.
Like most high-end media server systems, ReQuest products are only sold and installed through specialty retailers and systems integrators because they are complex to install and set up. My local ReQuest sales representative, Peter Hansen, set up the F2 and IMC in my media room. Even with Hansen’s expertise and knowledge of these products, we ran into some issues. The router that I use in my media room seemed to be partially to blame (one of the ports wasn’t functioning properly), and the network setup didn’t go as quickly or as effortlessly as Hansen expected.
Both the F2 and the IMC require hard-wired LAN connections. If you don’t have a router near your A/V setup, you’ll need one to accommodate this system. An IP address needs to be assigned to each unit, so they can communicate with each other. The F2 immediately found my network and was assigned an IP. When the IMC is connected to the network and recognizes the F2, you must manually input the F2’s IP address into the IMC.