MEDIA SERVER REVIEWS

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Darryl Wilkinson  |  Apr 26, 2010  |  0 comments

Performance
Features
Ergonomics
Value
Price: $1,098 (as reviewed)

At A Glance: Robust wireless communication between devices • Supports most audio codecs except Apple FairPlay DRM-protected and WMA lossless • Access to numerous online audio-subscription services • ZonePlayers can stream local analog sources to other zonesI’ve often thought it would be nice to have music in multiple rooms of the house; but, as I’ve alluded, my home is not custom install friendly. I decided that a wireless multiroom system would definitely be the best bet. Sonos, a company that focuses exclusively on wireless multiroom audio, has a system that’s designed to do just thatŃand moreŃin up to 32 independent zones without breaking the bank or tearing down any walls. After I read the endearing tag line, “Wireless that works like magic,” I thought, what better time or place could there be to check out Sonos’ latest system incarnation? So I asked Sonos to send out its Bundle 150 two-zone package ($999 ) plus a ZoneBridge and let the fun begin.

Barb Gonzalez  |  Sep 11, 2012  |  10 comments
It was a steadily growing progression. The more I streamed movies and music to my media players and home theater, the more movies and music I downloaded. My movie folder was stuffed with high-definition videos. There were more songs than I could listen to in a month. My media libraries had grown to hundreds of gigabytes and were slowing down my computer.
Chris Chiarella  |  Nov 15, 2007  |  First Published: Oct 15, 2007  |  0 comments
Stream like you've never streamed before.

I guess the Internet is never going to hit maximum capacity.

Kim Wilson  |  Aug 31, 2009  |  0 comments
Price: $5,499 At A Glance: Ample storage • Easy to navigate and access media • Plays Blu-ray, DVD, and CD media • Best installed by a professional • Uses Windows Media Center interface

Extreme Media Server

While there are many media servers, I would venture to guess that the average consumer doesn’t understand them. One of the biggest reasons for that is the cost of entry. It is so far outside the reach of most people that they haven’t bothered to research the various brands on the market.

Rob Sabin  |  Dec 13, 2013  |  0 comments

Performance
Features
Ergonomics
Value
PRICE $1,277

AT A GLANCE
Plus
Simple setup
Intuitive, engaging, easy interface
Excellent sonics when mated with good speakers
Minus
Limited streaming music options
No desktop controller

THE VERDICT
Though its wireless system isn’t as built out as the popular Sonos system, NuVo delivers a worthy competitor and a foundation for the future.

Back in Sound & Vision’s July/August 2013 issue, my colleague John Sciacca favorably reviewed the NuVo Technologies Wireless Audio System, a multiroom music solution that goes after the popular Sonos system head on, delivered by a company with an even longer history in distributed audio. (Read John's review here.) About 10 years ago, when Sonos didn’t exist and companies like Russound dominated the multiroom industry with traditional pushbutton wall pads that blindly operated hidden CD players, radio tuners, or other analog sources using flaky infrared signals, NuVo had another way.

Chris Chiarella  |  Jul 19, 2006  |  0 comments
The most important Xbox 360 accessory you'll ever own.

Remember the buzz shortly after the launch of the Microsoft Xbox 360 last year regarding concerns of the super-powered system overheating amid all of that heavy bit-lifting? Nyko has stepped up and done something about it.

Darryl Wilkinson  |  Dec 21, 2011  |  1 comments
Performance
Features
Ergonomics
Value
Price: $1,249 At A Glance: BD player/recorder with 3D support • HDMI 1.4a • IR remote control

One of the many questions that keeps me up at night is why dedicated A/V media servers—the kind that sit cozily on a shelf above your AVR and pretend to be just another A/V source in your system—have traditionally been and continue to be so darn expensive. At the gleaming pinnacle of all that is good and glorious (and most expensive) in the media server world is the Kaleidescape movie system. Once you pull your head out of the “I could buy a new car with that kind of money” cloud and look down on the mountain of mere mortal media servers, you’ll see a small variety of makes and models with varying sphincter-constricting price points from companies such as Meridian, Olive, NuVo, and VidaBox. I reviewed Autonomic’s Mirage MMS-2 two-zone media server (Home Theater, October 2011), and I found lots to like about it—the iOS control apps, the integration of Internet streaming and cloud services, the two-zone outputs, and the all-around spiffy and ultra-easy way it provided access to my 300-plus-gigabyte library of digital media files—although none of that makes it any easier for most of us to sneak its $2,000 cost onto an already overburdened credit card.

Chris Chiarella  |  Nov 15, 2007  |  0 comments
Yeah, stick this in your PC. . ..

Whatever happened to portable TVs, anyway? I know my dad had one. It was a fairly bulky affair with a relatively small black-and-white screen. But the novelty eventually wore off; even the slenderized Sony Watchman didn't exactly take the world by storm, did it? Their allure is still undeniable, and they're certainly still out there, resting upon the knees of tailgaters and beachgoers. But shifts in the ways we use technology have also inspired the tech-savvy to put TV tuners into the omnipresent PC, conceivably turning a laptop into a portable HDTV, with a few caveats.

Chris Chiarella  |  Jan 31, 2006  |  First Published: Jan 01, 2006  |  0 comments
Three quick glimpses into what's hot in the convergence world.

I don't talk much about my one and only year at NYU Business School (short version: not a good fit), but I did learn this: Making a successful product is only the beginning. To survive and thrive, manufacturers need to enhance, improve, and give consumers the added value and new features that will keep them coming back. Here then are three essential pieces of audio gear from Logitech, Creative, and Apple; refreshed, redesigned, and rethought for an ever-changing market of technophiles.

Darryl Wilkinson  |  Dec 01, 2015  |  2 comments

Stereo Cubes Speaker
Performance
Build Quality
Value
One S Speaker
Performance
Build Quality
Value
PRICE $2,944 as reviewed

AT A GLANCE
Plus
Intuitive, easy-to-use app
Classy, minimalist cosmetics
Supports up to 192-kHz/24-bit files
Minus
No Bluetooth or AirPlay
Only four currently supported online music services
No subwoofer outputs

THE VERDICT
The Raumfeld system’s excellent-sounding active/passive speakers, ability to handle hi-res audio, and very intuitive app make it a top-notch competitor and a standout in a category that’s spawning a plethora of me-too Sonos imitators.

It’s mandatory at the beginning of any wireless streaming audio system review to mention Sonos. The company is a Goliath that launched the category more than a decade ago and now dominates it. The reason is simple: Sonos gear sounds good, is reliable, and is about as easy to use as it gets. That doesn’t mean, of course, that Sonos is perfection incarnate, nor is it totally without flaws. (There are chinks in every suit of armor.) But you do have to feel at least a modicum of pity for any manufacturer that decides to pick up a slingshot and take aim at the Sonos colossus.

Rebecca Day  |  Oct 16, 2007  |  First Published: Sep 17, 2007  |  0 comments
Bringing ReplayTV to the next frontier.

The company that invented the DVR is re-inventing it. ReplayTV has left the living room to TiVo, last-generation ReplayTV recorders, and cable and satellite providers that offer DVRs as a premium feature.

Kim Wilson  |  Mar 29, 2010  |  0 comments
Price: $6,294 At A Glance: 1-terabyte hard drive • Built-in CD/DVD optical drive • Two audio zones • Remote worldwide access to F2 server • Blu-ray capable (though not standard)

Single-Source Access

ReQuest is one of the first companies to bring proprietary music and media servers to the home entertainment environment. The company offers various systems that simplify how you store and retrieve your music, movies, photos, and more. ReQuest’s F2 Media Server is primarily designed for integration into existing A/V systems, and its IMC Intelligent Media Client adds video functionality to the F2.

Michael Antonoff  |  Jul 26, 2016  |  1 comments

Performance
Features
Ergonomics
Value
PRICE $50

AT A GLANCE
Plus
Private listening via mobile device
Voice search via Roku Mobile App
Quad-core processor
Minus
No motion control for games
No 4K Ultra HD support

THE VERDICT
Roku Streaming Stick offers a glut of net-sourced channels enhanced by rapid performance and tight integration with the Roku mobile app.

Roku media receivers continue to ride the tsunami of internet-delivered movies, videos, and TV channels but with fewer company-owned turfs to protect than competing products from Apple, Amazon, or Google. In so doing, Roku’s users now have more than 3,000 channel choices. Its latest device, a finger-sized Wi-Fi receiver that juts out of an input on your TV or A/V receiver, largely solves two problems that have plagued the stick-it-in-HDMI category compared with tabletop streamers—lower performance and inferior interface.

Barb Gonzalez  |  Jan 17, 2017  |  6 comments

Performance
Features
Ergonomics
Value
PRICE $130

AT A GLANCE
Plus
Excellent 4K HDR picture and sound quality
Optical audio output for full Dolby Digital Plus surround sound
Agnostic voice search finds movies/TV shows on most streaming channels
Minus
Playback control for music and slideshows is awkward
Doesn’t play Dolby Atmos from Vudu

THE VERDICT
Roku has once again upped the streaming game by including HDR and more in its highly recommendable Ultra 4K media player.

Continuing to up their game, Roku has introduced new products that add HDR (high dynamic range) to 4K streaming while maintaining their anyone-can-use-it simple menu structure. A slew of new models range from the Express player to a new top-of-the-line player, the Ultra. While both the Premiere+ and the Ultra support 4K and HDR (the standard 4K Premiere lacks HDR), the Ultra has a few more features for those who insist on the best picture and sound, and more. It’s proof of how far the streaming player has come from the low-quality picture of its first generation.

John Sciacca  |  Sep 04, 2014  |  0 comments
Performance
Features
Ergonomics
Value
PRICE $568 and up ($967 as tested)

AT A GLANCE
Plus
Fast and simple setup
Long transmission range
Zero detectable latency
Minus
Optical input doesn’t support Dolby or DTS bitstreams

THE VERDICT
XStream works exactly as promised, beaming audio around the home with little effort. Easily integrates with existing audio distribution systems or functions standalone.

Thanks to companies like Sonos and Bluesound, wireless audio distribution systems are gaining real traction in the marketplace. And if you’re starting from ground zero, these can be terrific options for sending music around an existing home.

But what if you have an existing audio system you want to expand on? Say an older Elan, Niles, or Russound housewide system that’s feeding multiple rooms that you want to add to? Or if you purchased a multi-zone A/V receiver and want to add music to a far bedroom or porch? Or maybe you just want to add some surround channels to the back of a room or new Dolby Atmos speakers that wouldn’t be possible or cost effective to do with traditional wiring? If any of those sounds like you, Russound’s new XStream X1 wireless audio system might be the perfect solution.

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