May 26, 2010
| by Julie Jacobson
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.
Julie Jacobson is co-founder of EH Publishing and currently spends most of her time writing for CE Pro, mostly in the areas of home automation, networked A/V and the business of home systems integration. She majored in Economics at the University of Michigan, earned an MBA from the University of Texas at Austin, and has never taken a journalism class in her life. Julie is a washed-up Ultimate Frisbee player with the scars to prove it. Follow her on Twitter @juliejacobson.