A device that funnels multimedia content streamed from a computer to a stereo or home theater system. It receives digital audio and video data from the home network via an Ethernet or Wi-Fi connection and delivers it to the playback system. Generally located within the stereo or home theater cabinet, the media hub plugs into the analog or digital A/V inputs of the A/V receiver. The digital data are converted to analog for older systems or passed through for digital connections. Increasingly, this digital hub functionality is built into or optional on the A/V receiver itself.|
Digital media hubs are popular for music collections on the computer. Software such as Windows Media Player and iTunes is used to organize the content and create playlists, and the media hub is used to deliver them to the playback system. However, equipment is also available that functions like a media hub, but stores its own digital content as well (see digital media server).
A Tower of Babel
The digital media hub is known by many different names (you gotta love free enterprise!):
digital media receiver
wireless media adapter
wireless media player
wireless music system
Media Center Extender
streaming media player
network audio receiver
network music player
network media player
See Media Center Extender, digital media server, jukebox and digital convergence.
Media hubs hook into the network over wired Ethernet or wireless Wi-Fi and to the A/V equipment via a variety of connections. The A/V formats they support are determined by the codecs in the unit.
On top of this home theater rack is a SoundBridge unit from Roku Labs (www.rokulabs.com). Operated by its remote, this well-designed media hub is streaming playlists over Wi-Fi from iTunes in a Windows PC some 40 feet away. Supporting MP3, WMA, AIFF, WAV and unprotected AAC formats, it is also a self-contained Internet radio.