Niveus Media ordinarily packs a wallop with its hefty, multi-terabyte Media Center-based servers—some are named after mountains, just to give you an idea.
Now the company has come out with a mini server that looks like it still packs quite a punch. It’s called the Zone (product PDF link here), but at dimensions of just 6 x 6 x 2 inches it can fit snugly in your entertainment setup or stay well-hidden in a secondary room.
The Zone is also available directly from the Niveus website, for $1,499, and you can link multiple Zone players in several rooms so your entire digital media library is at your fingertips in any room of your home.
The little dynamo includes a Blu-ray/DVD drive that will give you 1080p playback for your high-def Blu-ray slot-loaded discs, as well as 7.1-channel audio with onboard decoding for lossless DTS-HD Master Audio and Dolby TrueHD formats.
With regular DVDs you can copy them and manage them with cover art, descriptions, genre, actor and director categories searchable within Niveus’ Movie Library—the product guide makes it pretty clear though, with three asterisks, that you can’t rip copyright-protected video material. You can, however, access all of the videos you have stored on your existing PC network through the Windows Media Center-based platform and hardwired Ethernet connection (sorry, no Wi-Fi support).
You can also add storage through the eSATA ports (it comes with 160 GB) so there’s plenty of room when you want to copy your movies, rip your music and add all of your photos.
There’s also the allowance of a third-party television tuner, with the zone being digital cable compatible, so you can enjoy DVR functionality like pausing and rewinding TV while recording HD programs. And linking Zones will give you the freedom to watch anything or listen to any tunes in your digital media library in one room while your children can access something else in the library from another.
The Zone is available now. There’s even a dedicated Zone “community” on Niveus’ website to help answer your questions, and where you can access pre-release software.
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Arlen writes about home technology installations and product news and reviews for electronichouse.com
and Electronic House magazine.