A Revolution in Home Entertainment

Entertainment systems in the home have advanced a lot from the days when you ooh’ed and ahh’ed because neighbors had few pairs of speakers that were seamlessly into the walls of his home. That’s old news now. Even homes in comparatively modest modern developments are fitted with all the necessary TV, audio, network and telephone wiring. In a lot of developments, the builder comes with a standard wiring kit and different upgrades for additional wiring, speakers, wiring enclosures and even complete control systems.

Systems have evolved to include sleek touch screens mounted on walls that permit easy access to music and other house functions like lighting, security, HVAC, and windows that are controlled by motors. A skilled programmer can create these systems with true “one touch” simplicity. It’s almost like they’re reading your mind.

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The advantages of using a touchscreen is that it can change the control interface to only display the features you need at any one time. This affords tremendous flexibility but still provides the simplicity that many desire. The touch screen interface is extremely efficient when it is combined to another technological advancement that’s gained recent prominence: the hard disk-based media server.
Your CDs are downloaded or ripped, to a hard drive. This allows the entire music collection to be displayed via a touch screen for easy searching. You are able to typically search by artist, song’s title and genre, as well as album. When the search you want to do is discovered, you simply need to tap it on the screen and it begins to play.

These servers utilize computer hard drives , as well as the latest compression techniques to store huge quantities of music in an audio component that is less then half that size as the 200-disc CD player. They function the same way as a standard CD player, not your computer, so they’re reliable and easy to use.

Media servers have been exploding in popularity in recent years due to the enormous popularity of compressed music formats such as MP3 and the plethora of capabilities that a disc system provides.
For those who own or have, mega changers, a hard drive music server will feel like an air freshener.

The ability to access any song is usually just a few seconds away. Contrast this with choosing disc 94 from your 300-disc CD changer when you are using disc 201. With a multi-room audio system it could be that you’re located on the other side of your house trying to complete this task using the use of a remote control or keypad. The wait for the changer to turn off the disc it was playing and then the carousel around to the disc you want to play can seem like an eternity.

Another benefit is that it is simple to catalog. Many hard drive systems recognize the CD you insert to burning, and if they do not then they connect via the internet, allowing access to a giant database. They can access this database automatically to get the artist, album and track information. It is long gone the days of using a remote or keyboard to manually input the information concerning your CDs in a CD changer. It is also no longer necessary to worry about which slot the discs are stored in. “Let’s see, was Led Zeppelin IV in slot 90 or 190?”
A hard drive server allows you to free up your CDs for usage elsewhere, like your car, boat or holiday home.

In addition, since the discs you own aren’t locked up in a changer this collection can to be enjoyed by a variety of members of your family at once. With a changer, if anyone is listening to it, all of the discs in it are off limits. With a changer, not only are your CDs available for use in other locations but many hard drive servers also provide various audio outputs.

Multiple outputs allow you to listen to various discs in different areas in your house if your system is so set up. For example you could have one person listening to Korn in the rec room while Bach’s Requiem is playing in the kitchen, and Dire Straights inside the bedroom. With a conventional CD changer, this is impossible.

You can also buy and store music from many online music services and store the songs on your hard drive server.
Hard drive servers offer advantages over music files stored on a computer , as well. Since they function just like an audio component that is traditional and are therefore easier to use for many people. It’s also easier to integrate them with touchscreen-based household control devices. The situation will change with the increasing popularity of multimedia PCs like ones running Microsoft XP Media Center Edition 2005 increase.

These units are many steps further from delivering the promise of “convergence” between consumer electronics and computers. Multimedia PCs, also known in the form of HTPCs”Home Theater PC] function as DVD players, personal video recorders (similar to a TiVO) and hard drive media storage.

They let you save digital images that can be easily displayed on your TV or display. HTPCs will, of course browse the web on your TV via the internet connection. As storage on hard drives becomes more affordable and compression techniques improve as well, the storage of HD films and HDTV programs will become commonplace.

The moment they are released, these devices and servers will become more of the norm than the exception. You’ll never be able to forget the variety of options provided and the possibility to access your media collection all over your home. At one time, it was a rarity to find media servers in some form or another, will be found in nearly every house.

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