Media Server Reviews

Sort By: Post DateTitle Publish Date
Daniel Kumin  |  Dec 03, 2005  |  0 comments
Over the years, there's been an Apricot (a brand of computers), an Orange Micr
John Sciacca  |  Jul 08, 2020  |  0 comments
Performance
Features
Ergonomics
Value
PRICE $649

AT A GLANCE
Plus
Unbeatable price point
Supports major streaming services
Good connectivity options
Minus
Analog audio quality
Occasional lockups

THE VERDICT
The SRT4 is a value-priced multi-zone streamer that will fill your house with music for not much money, but also comes with ergonomic and sound quality limitations.

Housewide audio distribution has evolved rapidly over the past few years, with new systems abandoning traditional music sources like CD changers and terrestrial radio tuners to move almost exclusively to streamed content. When it comes to choosing a multizone music streamer for a system, the buying criteria today often boils down to how many streaming services it supports, app ease of use, and cost.

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.

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.

Chris Chiarella  |  May 04, 2008  |  0 comments
Move your TV programs from computer to home theater at the speed of walking.

One of my favorite (to make fun of) bits of business-speak is the phrase “leveraging our core competency.” Not content to say, “We’re doing what we do best,” guys in suits spout this lofty verbiage to inspire confidence as they draw upon their unique strength and experience. As the creators of flash memory cards, SanDisk’s core competency has long been those tiny, solid-state wafers in ever-expanding capacities, manufactured in form factors to fit just about every digital device imaginable. They pushed their products in interesting new directions, with dedicated living-room devices that read from and even record to various cards (the SanDisk V-Mate, May 2007 HT). That’s in addition to their broad and popular line of portable MP3 players, with and without video. But with Apple ruling the roost in video-software downloads, and consumers clamoring to watch their digital videos in the comfort of the home theater, what’s next?

Kim Wilson  |  Jan 19, 2011  |  1 comments

Performance
Features
Ergonomics
Value
Price: $399

At A Glance: Single-box solution • Easy setup and operation • Perfect for smaller rooms, garage, and outdoors • Integrates with existing Sonos systems • Product now called Play:5

Sonos, a leader in low-cost, wholehouse audio, has made it possible to inexpensively stream audio from a computer to multiple A/V systems using one or more of its ZonePlayers. The $399 Sonos S5, the newest ZonePlayer, is completely self-contained. It incorporates its own power supply, amplification, and internal speakers, which allows audio streaming from a wide variety of sources without a dedicated sound system. It can serve as your main (or only) ZonePlayer or as an extension of an existing Sonos system.

Mark Fleischmann  |  Apr 25, 2014  |  4 comments

Performance
Features
Ergonomics
Value
PRICE $999

AT A GLANCE
Plus
500-GB hard drive
DSD capable
Serious fun to use
Minus
No live streaming from network devices
Lightweight amp

THE VERDICT
This handsome DSD-capable audio player with built-in storage takes the pesky computer out of computer audio—and it’s way more fun to use.

Sony made waves when they announced their intention to market three high-resolution audio (HRA) products built around the company’s DSD file format. True, there was a nascent HRA movement before Sony made the move, with loads of network audio players and USB DACs flooding the market. But somehow the Sony announcement provided the extra momentum that finally made HRA seem not just promising but inevitable. That the Consumer Electronics Association has also launched an HRA initiative is icing on the cake.

Adrienne Maxwell  |  Apr 27, 2008  |  0 comments
A media center…minus the PC.

In theory, I’m a big fan of the all-in-one media center, a single device through which you can enjoy all of your digital entertainment: DVDs, music, photos, and video. In practice, though, I’ve been less than impressed by the Media Center PCs I’ve used, of both the Windows XP and Vista varieties. Nothing ever works quite as seamlessly as it should, I don’t want to keep a keyboard and mouse in my living room, and, most importantly, system crashes make me angry.

Barb Gonzalez  |  Sep 19, 2012  |  1 comments

Performance
Features
Ergonomics
Value
Price: $100 At A Glance: Adds Vudu and more apps to SMP-N100 • Smooth streaming performance • Controlled by other HDMI CEC remotes • Xross menu displays only 10 files at a glance

Testing the Sony SMP-N200 made me consider how far network media players have come in the past few years. Sony’s base model, an upgraded version of its first player, the SMP-N100, handles most of the basic media streaming options with ease. It plays nicely with others, easily finding connections to DLNA servers, computers, tablet media controllers, and smartphone apps. It plays a wide variety of file formats. And it does it all for $100.

Pages

X