Monday, October 13, 2008

What is a Digital Media Streamer?

What is a Digital Media Streamer?

The Digital Media Streamer is a device which has the capability to playback your media contents (video / audio / picture) stored in the computer on your home entertainment system. It usually contains the following components:

1. Connectivity:
  • To the digital media library (usually stored in the computer): A Digital Media Streamer can connect to the home network and access the digital library stored in the computer using either a wireless or wired connection.

  • To the home entertainment system: Different digital media players equipped with different video / audio connection interface to work with the home entertainment system. Some high-end digital media streamers output Hi-definition content to home entertainment system via HDMI and S/PDIF cables. Others output analog signal via S-Video, Composite, or A/V cables.

2. User Interface:
  • The media streamer usually makes use of the display in the home entertainment system to present an interactive graphic user control interface (GUI).

  • Users can use the remote control that comes with the digital media streamer package to browse the digital media content stored in the computer and to perform playback functions, such as play, fast-forward, stop, and etc…

3. Digital Media Streamer Box:
  • Connection Ports: Digital Media Streamer box contains different ports to interface with computer and home entertainment systems.

  • Processing Power: The digital media streamer is equipped with processing power to browse, locate, decode and playback media files stored in the computer. It can also manage the communication between the box and the computer / home entertainment system.

  • Infrared Port: To let the remote control communicate with the box itself.

  • Power unit: Usually an AC power adapter is included to power the box.

4. Storage Device:
  • Some digital media streamers include an internal HDD to store content inside the box.

  • Some digital media streamers provide ports, such as USB port, e-SATA port or card readers, to let users hook-up external storage devices to the box.

Currently, there is still not a unified way in which to refer to the digital media streamer. The following outlines how different vendors refer to their devices:

  • Netgear: Digital Entertainment HD
  • Linksys: Media Extender
  • D-Link: Media Player

Although they may be called by different names, their basic functions are similar.

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