The first thing we need to say here is that we haven't mistyped the price at the top of this review. There's no extra zero on the end. Which is to say that you really will need north of £23,000 to get your hands on the Lewis MSB Series ‘home theatre' server we're testing out today.
Obviously this makes it exclusively the domain of the super rich. But quite aside from the fact that we're confident one or two super-rich dudes read our site, we also think that the MSB Series is sufficiently interesting to get your attention even if you haven't got a hope in hell of ever being able to afford one.
What makes it so special? Well, there are a number of factors, all of which we'll cover in due course. But the single most key one - and a world first, we believe - is the rather handy ability to copy Blu-ray and HD DVD discs in their entirety to hard disc so that, in true server style, you can then distribute your HD films all over the house without needing to ever get the HD DVD or Blu-ray discs out of storage again.
Other systems have allowed you to copy HD films from discs. But the Lewis MSB series is to our knowledge the first server system that's able to also copy Blu-ray and HD DVD disc menus in their entirety, so that you can navigate them and enjoy all the extra features in just the same way you would with an actual disc. Pretty cool, huh?
Having hopefully piqued your interest in the MSB Series, we're going to have to get slightly technical on you for a moment as we try to explain exactly what buying an MSB Series' home theatre server really gets you.
Essentially there are three main elements. In a kit rack at the heart of your system you'll have either an MSB4800 or MSB9000 Storage unit (holding all the HDD memory), fed by a separate ‘1.5u' Blu-ray/HD DVD/CD/DVD drive. From the server, video is distributed across your network over distances of up to 200m via CAT 6 and CAT 5E cabling (for video and audio respectively) to as many as 50 different rooms, in each of which you will find the third component, the MSB Multiroom receiver/playback unit.
Yes, I really did say 50 rooms back there. But then if you've got the 20 grand plus required to actually buy an MSB system, there really is a chance you might have 50 rooms in your house. If that's the case, then the extra £1,800 needed for each multiroom receiver for every one of those rooms is probably just pocket change to you.