MediaServer MS104- £3,699, MS106 - £4,299, MS108 - £4,999
MediaMaster MM110 - £699, MM210 - £799, MM220 - £899, MM310 - £1,199, MM320 - £1,299
MediaMaster Pro - £2,000 - £4,000
If you’re sick of Blu-ray discs, DVDs and CDs taking up every last inch of space in your house then you’ll no doubt have been tempted by the idea of a media server. They allow you to rip all of your movies and albums onto a single unit where they can be accessed quickly and easily, allowing you to take that unwieldy disc collection to the charity shop. What’s more, with client units installed around the house you can access the same content in any room you like.
Trouble is, multi-room systems from big-guns like Imerge and Kaleidescape are notoriously expensive, but UK manufacturer Vivadi has come up with a range of multi-room products that’ll cost you a fraction of the price. We’re not talking peanuts here, but if you’ve got the cash to splash on a multi-room system and were expecting to fork out a five-figure sum, Vivadi’s offering could end up saving you a packet.
The Swindon-based company has launched three media servers, all of which are identical apart from hard-disk capacity. The cheapest is the MS104, which features a total HDD capacity of 4TB, followed by the 6TB MS106 and 8TB MS108. As a guide, 6TB will store 500 movies, 4,000 uncompressed CDs, 500,000 MP3 songs, or 2,000 hours of recorded TV.
Each server comes equipped with a decent-looking spec, including a dual-core, 64-bit 2 x 2.5GHz processor, 2GB of memory and a Liteon Blu-ray/DVD/CD drive. On the outside, the server’s 2U rackmount chassis is about the same size as an average Blu-ray player but looks somewhat industrial – the gunmetal grey finish, large fan grilles and clunky handles make it more functional than fashionable. But while it lacks the luxury of an Imerge, for example, it doesn’t really matter what it looks like if you’re tucking it away in a cupboard.
Rear panel connections include HDMI, DVI and HD15 VGA outputs, plus a coaxial digital audio output and three stereo minijack outputs. Of course you also get an Ethernet port, four USB ports and a keyboard socket.
As for the MediaMaster clients, we’ve already reviewed a couple of Vivadi’s previous models, the discontinued 1TB MM200 and the cheaper 500GB MM110 (which is still part of the range). Joining the MM110 are four other MediaMaster units, all of which offer a hard-disk capacity of 1TB.
Like the server, these four models (MM210, MM220, MM310 and MM320) all come equipped with a dual-core 64-bit 2 x 2.5GHz processor (as opposed to the MM110’s 2.1GHz processor) and 1GB of RAM, but the MM310 and MM320 feature a Blu-ray/DVD/CD drive instead of the DVD/CD drive found on the MM210 and MM220. Additionally, if you want to watch and record TV, the MM220 and MM320 also feature twin DVB-T tuners.
All of the MediaMaster units sport HDMI, DVI, HD15 (VGA), coaxial digital audio and three stereo minijack outputs, as well as line and mic minijack inputs. Elsewhere you get six USB ports for peripherals and an Ethernet port, while the TV tuner card inside the MM220 and MM320 gets you S-video and composite video inputs. The MM210 and MM220 support 5.1-channel Dolby Digital output via HDMI, while the MM3210 and MM320 support 7.1-channel PCM.
Vivadi has given the design of the newer MediaMasters a revamp, but as a result they’re not as classy-looking or well-built. The slimline MM110 looks and feels like a high-end DVD player, but this new casing is fatter, narrower and more plasticky, making it more PC than AV – not great if you’re sticking it under the TV in the living room. The front panel sports two of the USB ports and a couple minijack inputs.