Serve me, music server

Just because music is digital does not mean you must use a computer to play it back. Music servers are components designed to be part of your home entertainment system. There is no running back and forth to the computer.  You plug one of these boxes into your system, load your music by inserting your compact disc collection a disc at a time, then sit back and enjoy the new millennium. 

There are a few glitches. You must have an Internet connection so that the music server can go online to download all the metadata (song titles, artwork and recording information), you must have a display device to scan your options and music servers can be slow. Oh yes, and they can cost a bundle. They can run from north of $1,000 to well past $20,000. Still, for the well heeled, they can be a joy. Just think, no more CD cases all over the house, easy scanning of your entire music catalog and pristine sound quality if you use a lossless compression scheme. 

The make or break issue is the interface. If access is slow and clunky, the thrill is gone. A fast, graphically easy interface will keep you playing for hours. This has been a problem for many music servers but Sooloos has come out with a system that makes it all fun. If you get the system with the 17″ touch screen, you can whip through thousands of albums in seconds. When you see what you want, touch it and hit play and the music comes on right away. This is so much easier than scrolling with a remote control on a screen. The system is super fast thanks to a linux-based operating system that is designed solely for this system. The downside is that done right, the Sooloos is over $10,000. This drops it in the big-money toy list, but for those who can make the payments, meet the new standard.

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