questionsi recently asked, "who burns cds anymore?"

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or... If it exists... a component that can access my home network and play media off of my current raid system.

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I don't think it is exactly what you are looking for but the Logitech Squeezebox will connect to a stereo and also connect to a computer with a RAID. This lets you stream mp3's as well as internet radio and some other apps are available too.

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@benyust2: does the computer need to be on for it to work?

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@vinithehat: Unfortunately, yes. There is a program that needs to be installed on the computer called Squeezebox Server and if it isn't running, the device won't do anything at all.

However, I have read about ways to run the server on a hard drive attached to a router. From what I have read, my router isn't powerful enough to do the routing work AND run the server so I haven't tried it. A better router should work though.

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There's the less elegant solution of Xbox 360 + Windows Media Center computer. not ideal, but certainly inexpensive compared to some options, since you may have both items already. You could build or repurpose a computer as the file server, then use the 360 as the media center extender. Gives the added bonus of allowing you to stream video to your television as well.

I will be doing something similar to this shortly, creating a Hyper-V VM of Windows Home Server to serve the media, then use our 360s as receivers for it. The VM will be on a "server" (eh, just a workstation I have built up to have storage) with 3 2TB drives for storage purposes, a 640GB drive for the VM (at least that's my thinking now) and a SSD for WinServer2008R2 (hyper-v host)

If you have Xbox Live, you can also get last.fm for some more music. Does require a TV for control, that's another downside.

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@apfrehm: good idea, but i dont want to need a pc on for efficiency reasons. if i have a pc on it makes the idea of using the xbox redundant.

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@vinithehat: True, it means multiple devices being powered on, however the server + xbox combination allows you to have a small(ish) device near your stereo, then a server stashed wherever you would like. Networking it also gives you access to your media from any networked device, which may or may not be of any benefit to you.

In terms of power, my rig is anything but efficient, but I have read numerous places that a file server built around an Atom processor is quite good.