How many gigs of music, photo, and video files are you storing on your PCs hard drive? Uh-huh, we are too. Thats why home entertainment hubs make so much sense. This new type of gadget serves as a bridge between your PC and your AV equipment, allowing you to experience your digital media in a rich, full way.
But if PCs are from Mars, stereos are from Venus. Even as the two grow closer together, major differences remain. Such is the case with the 17 devices we reviewed.
At the low end, diskless digital media hubs sit atop your stereo receiver and convert files from your PC into music your stereo can play. About half of them can also grab photos on your PC and display them on your TV. Most cost $200 to $300 each and use either wired or wireless (802.11b) Ethernet. At the high end, digital jukeboxes ($1,500 to $3,000) have hard drives of 20GB to 120GB that store the equivalent of 100 to 2,000 CDs.
The digital jukeboxes we reviewed can accept MP3 and WMA files that youve already ripped on your PC. They can also send ripped files back to your PC, but only after encrypting the files. This prevents files from being transferred anywhere except to the digital jukebox they came from.