One phat hi-tech home theatre, gaming system

If you attend Storage Networking World and walk the exposition floor, you're sure to see more spinning disk subsystems, robotic tape libraries, blinking Fibre Channel switches and screens displaying management software than you can shake a stick at, but the one thing you don't expect to see is one of the nicest home theatre systems money can buy streaming downloaded movies, games and photos through wired and wirelsss links from a consumer-grade server to a state-of-the-art Pioneer 50" plasma 1080p TV. Everyone stopped by this vendor's booth.

The home theatre set up came courtesy of Intel Corp., which had the system on display to show off its Entry Storage System SS4200-E home NAS server. All at the same time, the server was connected to a 24" iMac, an Apple TV, an Xbox 360, a Wii, an iPod Touch, a Nokia N810 mobile Internet tablet, and a 15" wireless digital picture frame from Spectrum Digital. Flat screens of varying sizes surrounded the booth displaying the NAS server's ability to handle multiple video streams.

The server, which has four disk bays, was set up with 2TB capacity but expands to 4TB using 1TB SATA drives. The server allows the movies, games, etc. to be displayed in a menu on the plasma TV screen. Susan Bobholz, Ecosystem Enablement Manager with Intel's Storage Group, gave our videographer a quick run down on the system, which you can watch here:

This is the default player used to display virally syndicated titles via the Get the Code button.

What I was most interested in was the server's ability to store and set on a menu downloaded movies. I think this is the future. I pressed an Intel rep as to whether the movies were true high definition. The answer I was given was that while compression is used, the picture is as close to hi-def as you can get and you can only notice subtle differences between a Blu-ray Disc player and the downloaded movies when standing very close to the screen. And, I have to say, the picture was stunning. Unfortunately, for the purposed of our video, Intel refused to play a movie citing copyright infringement issues. Bummer.

You may also notice the $1,000 Pioneer BDP-95FD Blu-ray Disc player in the video. Intel left nothing out. The home theatre electronics equipment was all either Pioneer Elite or Monster Cable, including not one but two Signature Series Pro Power AVS 2000 Automatic Voltage Stabilizers -- each cost a cool $2,200.

Here's a tabulation of the equipment:

(1) Pioneer 50" 1080p KURO Flat Panel HDTV: $5,000

(2) Series Pro Power AVS 2000 Automatic Voltage Stabilizers: $4,400

(2) Intel Entry Storage System SS4200-E home NAS servers: $700 (without disk drives)

(1) Pioneer BDP-95FD Blu-ray Disc player: $999

(1) 24" iMac: $2,249

(1) Apple TV: $329

(1) Xbox 360 console: $349

(1) Nintendo Wii console: $250

(1) Apple iPod Touch: $399

(1) Nokia N810 Mobile Internet Tablet: $500

(1) Spectrum Digital 15" wireless photo frame: $357

(1) Pioneer Elite VSX 94TXH AV Receiver: $1,800

(2) Monster THX Tower Speakers 200: $1,600

Total price: $18,932

The Intel Entry Storage System SS4200-E is supposed to be easy to use and has a four-step setup process and includes out-of-the-box RAID and EMC's Retrospect backup software. The box has four USB 2.0 ports and four 3Gbit/sec SATA ports.

Necessary to make this whole home theatre tick is a state-of-the-art flat screen television with an Ethernet port, something that's new to the market but that I'm told will become standard in the future.

No. I couldn't hope to afford this system, but it's a little like looking at a Porsche 911 Turbo, sure you can't buy it, but you can still admire its beauty.


Copyright © 2008 IDG Communications, Inc.

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