ReQuest Adds $1,200 MediaPlayer Client

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CEO discusses new client device for high-performance servers and legalities for DVD ripping.


May. 26, 2010 — by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)

ReQuest is making it more affordable to distribute movies, music, photos and all manner of Internet content throughout the house.

The company’s new MediaPlayer client, expected to ship in June, will retail for “just” $1,195. That may seem like a lot if you’re Media Centers and cheap extenders, but the price is right for a dedicated, high-quality, whole-house media system – which ReQuest is famous for.

The MediaPlayer is better than half the price of ReQuest’s other media extender, the Intelligent Media Client. The IMC has a few key features that the MediaPlayer does not: a DVD drive that lets you play a movie or archive it to a ReQuest server; HDMI and component outputs that can be utilized simultaneously; and the ability to control a Sony Blu-ray changer.

Most rooms of the house won’t need all of that IMC functionality.

The MediaPlayer, on the other hand, “doesn’t have drives, it’s quiet,” ReQuest CEO Peter Cholnoky tells CE Pro. “It’s designed to be hidden – put it in the master bedroom or kid’s room.”

Like the IMC, the MediaPlayer requires a ReQuest server – the F-Series or IMS—to store content and do the smart stuff like whole-house distribution, metadata management and Internet streaming.

The servers, which start at less than $5,000, also aggregate content from other storage devices on the home network – think 24TB NAS for $8,000 or so.

Besides the user’s own DVD, music and photo collections, the ReQuest line currently supports YouTube, Netflix, Hulu, Internet radio, stocks, news and other Internet fare – all presented in a unified interface through the TV or touchscreen from ReQuest or its home-control partners.

Soon, the company plans to introduce Pandora and Amazon UnBox functionality.

While the new rage in content aggregation seems to be some kind of universal search functionality – Crestron is well known for the WorldSearch feature on its ADMS server – ReQuest does not intend to implement such a feature.

“We tabled that,” says Cholnoky. “The more we talk to people, the more it seems they don’t want it.”

Instead, he explains, “We’re trying to integrate all of these third-party data repositories – they all have their own GUIs [graphical user interfaces] – into one standard, familiar interface.”

But Is It Legal?

What about the fact that Kaleidescape is embroiled in a lawsuit concerning DVD copying, and that Real Networks lost its RealDVD ripping case in the courts? Is Cholnoky concerned that ReQuest may be the next target?

“Nope,” he says. “Should I be?”

Like Kaleidescape, ReQuest has a license from the DVD CCA – a plaintiff in both the Kaleidescape and Real cases – to play DVDs.

“We pay a license fee for every single disc player,” Cholnoky says. “We’re trying very hard to work with everyone.”

Kaleidescape recently announced a new Blu-ray copy system that requires the physical disc to be in the tray to play, even if the movie has already been copied to the server.

Practically from the beginning, ReQuest built a system that could require users to insert a random disc from their collection at the server’s behest.

“We use it as a fail-safe for content verification,” Cholnoky says.

It irks him that most DVD collectors rip discs to a PC or other server, illegally circumventing copy protections, using $20 software purchased over the Internet. Companies like ReQuest and Kaleidescape, on the other hand, offer extra measures of security to ensure that DVD copies never leave their respective ecosystems.

Cholnoky notes that if the Kaleidescape case ultimately illegalizes the trafficking of DVD-archiving products, “in two seconds we can convert our box to do what every body else does [download third-party software]. Is that what they really want? We believe what we’re doing is within the letter of the law.”

Media Servers Still Have Life

Legalities aside, dedicated media servers are not a dying breed, Cholnoky insists.

Despite an exodus of former competitors, most notably Escient, there is still a market for pricey servers and multiroom players like ReQuest’s – well, pricier than $100 Roku boxes and free Google TV, at least.

Certainly in the custom integration world, consumers demand an elegant solution with high-quality audio, video and control, such as ReQuest and others provide.

Cholnoky understands that the world is going to the cloud, but the need for physical discs and on-site servers and clients are here for a very long time.

“Just because you have things in the cloud, how are you going to watch your movie in the car?” he wonders. “I do believe there are certain things that people want to collect.”

Furthermore, not for many, many years will you get enough bandwidth and reliability from the Internet to deliver audio- and videophile content to the home.

“You’re not going to stream an entire day of .WAV music from any service,” Cholnoky says, joking that your Internet bill would run in the millions. “There is great opportunity in cloud media for on-demand content, but the bandwidth is not there for high-def people who really care about it.”

While Cholnoky believes there is a market for sub-$200 boxes from the likes of Roku, Boxee and Popbox. “I also think there is room for high-end servces in the $5,000 to $8,000 range. We have have that.

“Also, I think there’s a pretty good market for a $2,500 A/V solution and we play to have that by the end of the year.”

ReQuest MediaPlayer Specs

MediaPlayer Requirements
-LAN connection to ReQuest server
-Broadband Internet connection for streaming video & metadata lookup
-HDMI input on your TV
-ReQuest iQ or F.Series server with Serious Play 6.2 or higher

System Includes
-MediaPlayer
-6’ HDMI cable
-Stand and VESA mounting bracket
-USB IR receiver
-Wireless keyboard with RF USB adaptor
-HDMI to DVI adapter
-110-220v power adopter
-Optional HDMI to Component adaptor available

Hardware
-NTSC: 480i30, 480p60, 720p60, 1080i30, 1080p60
-PAL: 576i25, 576p50, 720p50, 1080i25.
-HDMI 1.3a output scaled up to 1080p
-Digital audio or mini analog audio out
-Gigabit Ethernet
-2 USB (for IR and wireless keyboard adapters)
-Quiet operation at 26db
-Dimension: 8.74"D × 7"W × 1.06"H
-Weight: 2.2 lbs
-Power: 110-220v power adapter



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