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Pinnacle and Cambridge Audio announce digital media adapters

Divx and Mpeg4 video and high-end music streaming servers on their way

Two companies renowned for their AV (audiovisual) products today announced media servers designed to share music and video across a network or home.

Video specialist Pinnacle is set to replace its existing ShowCenter 1000g unit which went onsale a little over a year ago with the slimmer ShowCenter 200 which adds an integrated 802.11g wi-fi card and TV tuner as well as support for HDTV (high-definition TV) and DVBT free-to-air TV and radio stations.

Dynamic IP addressing and the built-in wireless card should mean those used to the vagaries of wi-fi incompatibilities should find the Pinnacle 200 DMA (digital media adapter) easier to integrate into an existing wireless G network than its predecessor. It also has an Ethernet connector should you wish to take the easy route and hook up to a wired network.

A built-in antenna sticks up from the back of the ShowCenter which supports dual TV tuners, opening up the possibility of watching one channel while recording another. The unit will play Mpeg, AVI and DivX files as well as clips downloaded from a digital camera or camcorder.

File management is handled by Pinnacle MediaManager which the company has also updated to take advantage of partnerships with online content providers such as MovieLink, Napster and MusicMatch.

A May launch and pricing of £200 looks likely.

Cambridge Audio, meanwhile, known for its speakers, is also keen to enable consumers to share their favourite tracks across a network or around their homes.

The £500 Azur 640H hard disk music server has a 160GB hard disk capable of burning to CD-R but also has external wireless G and Ethernet connectors with which you can hook up to a PC or notebook and stream or copy music from other devices. These include portable music players and external hard disks which can be read and content streamed directly by plugging in to the Azur’s USB 2.0 port.

Those keen to dispense with the PC or screen aspect will be able to view menus and track listings on the Azur’s LED display and jump to tracks or playlists using the remote control that comes as part of the £500 package.

WMA, MP3 and AAC music tracks bought online and integrated into iTunes or Windows Media will be supported but users shouldn’t expect support for all DRM (digital rights management) encrypted tracks. It will, however, be possible to stream internet radio.

According to a Cambridge Audio spokesman, the limit to the number of devices the Azur can see and stream music from is dependent on the wireless bandwidth but could be as many as 16.

In line with the brand’s kudos with audiophiles, ambient sound will be minimal as the Azur is a fanless silent supply unit with an acoustically damped chassis.

Cambridge Audio expects the 640H to be onsale in the UK from June or July.


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