How They Work

By Bill Howard  |  Posted 2003-07-01 Print this article Print

How They Work

A hub (sometimes called a client or media receiver) links your PC and stereo. If youre using a lower-priced hub, a small client program on the PC sends audio files to it, typically in compressed format (MP3 or WMA). The hub decompresses the files and forwards them to your stereo amplifier, which treats the input as just another form of music. Even wireless hubs today have enough bandwidth that you wont experience dropouts.

A digital jukebox (also called a personal audio recorder) has a CD-RW drive, which is usually slower than the one on a PC. You can rip a CD onto the jukeboxs hard drive in 10 to 30 minutes, typically using 192- or 320-Kbps MP3 compression. A digital jukebox can grab files already on your PC via Ethernet, and it can look up album and track information through online services such as AMG All Music Guide and Gracenote.

Many entertainment hubs can tune in Internet radio broadcasts. Some can display cover art on your TV. Most let you use your TV set as a display; a few pricey systems output to computer displays as well. To save costs, a few models have no on-screen displays: the cd3o and RCA hubs and the TDK and Yamaha digital jukeboxes.

A few of the products we tested dont fit neatly into either category. The Integra and Onkyo models are stereo receivers that double as digital-music hubs. And the Ideal Digital Jukebox and ViewSonic NextVision M2000 are Windows XP and Windows Media Center PCs, respectively.

For the whole story, check out the PC Magazine article.

Bill Howard

Bill Howard is the editor of, the car site for tech fans, and writes a column on car technology for PC Magazine each issue. He is also a contributing editor of PC Magazine.

Bill's articles on PCs, notebooks, and printers have been cited five times in the annual Computer Press Association Awards. He was named as one of the industry's ten most influential journalists from 1997 to 2000 by Marketing Computers and is a frequent commentator on TV news and business shows as well as at industry conventions. He also wrote the PC Magazine Guide to Notebook & Laptop Computers. He was an executive editor and senior editor of PC Magazine from 1985-2001 and wrote PC Magazine's On Technology column through 2005

Previously, Howard spent a decade as a newspaper editor and writer with the Newhouse and Gannett newspapers in Springfield, Massachusetts, and Rochester, New York. He also writes a monthly column for Roundel, a car magazine for BMW enthusiasts.


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