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Integra Fuses Media Center PC With Multiple A/V Components

8/21/2006 02:00:00 AM Eastern

Integra turns a Media Center PC into an audio/video component designed for custom home theater installations.

Integra said it's the first pure-audio supplier to create such a device.

The black-finish component, the $3,000-suggested NVS-7.7 Integrated Media Center with Intel's ViiV technology, replaces multiple components in a home theater setting, including DVD-Audio/Video player with built-in surround decoding, 1,080i/720p video scaler, CD player, ATSC/NTSC tuner, FM tuner with live-FM pause, and 400GB HDD music jukebox and DVR with 14-day electronic program guide.

Because it incorporates a Windows XP Media Center PC, it generates an on-screen Media Center interface to operate these functions as well as stream and download music and video through a broadband connection without using a networked PC.

Web-based content suppliers embedded in the Media Center interface include the MovieLink and CinemaNow movie-download sites, Napster's download and streaming services, XM Satellite Radio, and others. Content can also be transferred from a networked PC. Attaching a keyboard also lets users access other Web sites.

Because it's Ethernet-connected, content stored on the NVS-7.7 can be accessed via networked Media Center Extenders such as the Xbox 360. Stored music and Internet radio can also be accessed from $500 Integra Net-Tune clients incorporating AM/FM tuner and amplifier. An Integra receiver and preamp also act as Net-Tune clients.

A mix of up to three SD video streams and music streams can be streamed simultaneously over a home's Ethernet network to multiple Extenders, and up to three music streams can be sent simultaneously to NetTune clients, which were designed originally to access a central Net-Tune HDD 12-zone music server.

The DVR will record in high definition via its ATSC tuner but records in standard definition any video content supplied by a connected digital-cable or satellite-tuner box. Only SD video can be streamed to Ethernet-connected devices.

The device also features multiple custom-installation features, the company said, because it's intended for installers who've previously installed Media Center PCs in home theater rooms as part of a complete home theater or distributed-audio installation. The 7.7 is easier to set up, install and maintain than a typical Media Center PC and reduces the number of hours installers put in to deal with customer support, said system design specialist Brian Sandifer. For integration with custom-installed control systems, the device features RS-232 port and compatibility with IP-based control systems.

Although it can be used as a multizone source when connected to clients over an Ethernet network, it acts as a single source when connected to a distributed-A/V system.

For connection to a home theater system, it features 7.1-channel analog audio outputs and a separate analog two-channel output. Video inputs exclude HD-compatible component, DVI or HDMI inputs because of copyright concerns, Sandifer said, but video from connected digital-cable boxes and satellite TV boxes can be recorded in standard definition.

Surround processing includes Dolby Digital EX, Pro Logic IIx, Dolby Headphone and Dolby Virtual Speaker.

Songs can be transferred to the device's HDD via networked PC, USB drive, CD, and front-panel 8-in-1 card reader.