Windows Home Server and my media storage nightmare

A few months ago, during a party at my house, a small scuffle developed over music selection.  We had worked through the 5-10 CDs that I set aside for the evening and the tunes were beginning to repeat.  Around the third time my 5-disc changer began Michal Franti (a perennial favorite), I grew embarrassed by the antiquated nature of my music system.  This is not a new problem, but one I've had a hard time addressing for lack of adequate solutions.  I have hundreds of CDs scattered throughout my stereo/TV cabinet.  They are, needless to say, disorganized and difficult to navigate.  Many are digitized on my home pc, some are not.  Separately, I have a larger collection of music (approx 80gb) on my home pc, but haven't developed any system for delivering that music to my stereo.  This may seem silly, but I've been reluctant to invest in new technology, save an iPod, because I haven't found any solution impressive or sufficient enough to do what I want.  I think that's about to change.

Microsoft unveiled Windows Home Server at CES a few weeks ago, and I think it may solve many of my problems.  WHS serves as the hub for all media in the home and you can interact with it from any pc.  It also provides auto-backup, and remote access so you can interact with your data and/or share it from the road or office too.  This photo is of HP's home media server, which runs WHS and is slated to be the first release later this year.  I'd like to use it to store all my music, video, photos and documents that I can't afford to lose.  Paul Thurrott gave Windows Home Server a thorough review and I came away impressed.  TechMeme also had a lot of discussion.  Next comes the question of how I can distribute my music to my living room and bedroom.  For this, I think Sonos has the best product on the market....at least until Apple addresses it.  Their Zone Player allows you to distribute music from your storage device to multiple locations wirelessly and processes the sound in a high quality digital signal.  Slim Devices makes a similar unit, but after reading reviews, I think better of Sonos.  But I didn't feel good about Sonos' controller.  It looks like a fancy iPod and probably provides an inferior user experience.  After some research, I found the Samsung Q1 tablet pc with a 7" screen.  I think it will provide a more fulfilling experience navigating my music and creating playlists, etc.   In place of a Zone Player at the server, I plan to invest in Netgear Powerline Adapters and use the electrical wires in my apartment to distribute my network.  I'm hoping the wires aren't too old to handle something like this and it will save me several hundred dollars.

To me, this feels like a solid home media system and something long overdue.  Since I can't buy the Windows Home Server for a few months, and I couldn't afford one now anyway, I'll use my existing pc to host my music.  I've been talking about this for months, and I think its finally time to pull the trigger.  If anyone has thoughts or experience to share, please....

By Josh Guttman

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