Mostly drowned by Apple’s introduction of the iPhone was Bill Gates’ introduction of the home server at the CES show. Home server? Home media server? Which is which?
Why all the attention on my living room? Do I really need this stuff? What’s it going to cost me and what will it do for me?
Confused? Join the crowd. At the most basic level, the terms home server, home media server, media center, are new ways to get you to part with your money.
At a higher level, they’re also attractive tools that let you do more with the new digital media you’ve been collecting for a few years. What? You didn’t know you have a collection?
Yes, you have a massive collection if you have music on your Mac or PC, digital photos on your Mac or PC, and even TV shows or movies. The problem has been, well, they’re all stuck on your Mac (or PC).
The answer is, move all that digital media from your Mac to your TV set so you can really enjoy it. Oh, by the way. All those digital media assets, and all the other documents and files on your computer need to be backed up somewhere.
See? More ways to spend more money to do more things—and keep our favorite company in Cupertino, CA profitable.
There’s really a difference between terms media server and home server. A home server is another PC or device which can be used to serve files, or back up files. See? Another box to buy.
A media server is the method that manufacturers chose for us to move our digital music, photos, TV shows, and movies to the TV set so we can watch on TV what we watch already on our Macs and PCs.
Clear? ArsTechnica ran a nice How To Guide to set up a home media server. Geeky that they can be at times, Ars talked about RAID arrays, motherboards with six SATA ports, and so on.
Price tag? That ranged from over $1,100 to just under $4,000. I know what you weren’t thinking.
You weren’t thinking of spending quite that much, right? You could opt for a Windows PC featuring Windows Media Center instead. It’s much cheaper and you get that extra computer you’ve always wanted.
That brings up an interesting question. Does Windows Vista eliminate the need for Windows Media Center? It must, because it costs more money.
Apple has truly gone cross platform these days and all the new toys are made for Macs and Windows PCs. Take a look at Apple’s take on a media center.
All you need is a recent Mac or Windows PC, an AppleTV, and a new Apple Airport Extreme. Basically, your Mac or PC and an extra $750 will get you that home media server you’ve always dreamed of.
While it may not be as powerful as the one outlined by ArsTechnica, or even a good Apples-to-apples comparison, but you’ll be able to stream music, slide shows and photos, TV shows, and movies from your computer’s iTunes direct to the TV. And, you’ll have a nifty little backup server attached to the Airport Extreme (I allowed about $250 for an external USB drive).
See? It’s a home media server that uses your recently purchased Mac or PC and a few extra obligatorily purchased toys from Apple.
Back to the original question. Do you need a home media server? Is it on your shopping list for 2007? If so, why? If not, why not?