(1) Software that makes computer media available on the network. See media server.
(2) Any source for digital media such as a DVR, file server or personal computer.
(4) Hardware designed to store and serve digital multimedia content to a stereo system or home theater. Residing in or near the A/V equipment cabinet, the server plugs into the A/V receiver and connects to the home network via Ethernet or Wi-Fi. It includes a built-in hard drive or SSD to hold music, videos and photos, or it accepts external drives, or both. DVR capability and Internet radio are also features. Earlier media servers connected to and controlled CD/DVD changers. Network Music Player When media servers support only audio, they are called "network music players" or "music streamers." The primary difference is that they decode digital audio files and not video. See network music player. Rip and Copy Media servers may include an optical drive for ripping CDs to various digital audio formats, as well as copying DVDs to the server's storage device. If the optical drive supports writing, music and movies can be burned onto blank CDs and DVDs. See ripping and codec examples. Media servers often include the functions of a digital media hub to deliver streaming content from the Internet or from Windows and Mac machines in the network (see digital media hub). The Home Control Center Media servers are designed to be an entertainment control center for cataloging, organizing and distributing the family's multimedia collection throughout the house. Using a wireless keyboard, regular Windows PCs are sometimes customized by vendors for this purpose, and they can also be built by tech-savvy users (see HTPC).