|Exceptional Innovation Life|media LMS-500 Media Center PC|
|Home Theater Media Servers Home Theater/Media Center PCs|
|Written by AVRev.com|
|Friday, 09 May 2008|
Exceptional Innovation has established a name in custom-retail and home-automation circles for its Life|ware platform, a software-based automation system that runs on Windows Media Center PCs. The addition of Life|ware to a Media Center PC allows you to control compatible whole-house products (lighting, security, HVAC, multiroom distribution) easily through the Media Center interface. It was only a matter of time until EI decided to release its own Media Center hardware, with the Life|ware software preloaded. These new units are called Life|media.
Life|media is available in five different configurations, which vary in hard-drive storage, processing speed, graphic cards and overall size. The LMC-500 is a mid-level, three-rack-space model with a 2TB hard drive, DVR functionality, a DVD/CD burner, an FM tuner and two NTSC and ATSC tuners (the step-up LMS-550 replaces the FM/NTSC/ATSC tuners with dual CableCARD/Clear-QAM tuners, but otherwise has the same specs). The LMS-500 currently does not support Blu-ray playback.
The LMS-500 has all of the desired video and audio output options, as well as eight USB ports, two FireWire ports, and a 28-in-1 card reader. You can connect the LMS-500 to your home network via the back-panel Ethernet port; the unit does not have built-in Wi-Fi. Not surprisingly, given its automation emphasis, the LMS-500 has more advanced control options: two RS-232 and 12-volt trigger ports, one IR input and two IR outputs.
The LMS-500 has a traditional A/V form factor, with an all-black chassis. The package includes an RF remote and a wireless RF keyboard.
This product offers excellent connectivity, a large hard drive and ample RAM. It’s designed to be a more stable entertainment and automation platform, as opposed to just a PC running Windows Media Center. Dual over-the-air HDTV tuners allow you to record two HD shows simultaneously or watch one show and record another.
This particular unit does not support CableCARD to access premium HD channels, and it lacks some features you can find in less expensive Media Center PCs, such as a Blu-ray drive and built-in Wi-Fi. Only the two front-panel USB ports are 2.0; the remaining six are 1.1.
The LMS-500 is a well-endowed high-end Media Center that’s ideally suited for the person who wants dual-tuner DVR functionality for SDTV or over-the-air HDTV. While you could use it as a standalone entertainment product, the company intends for it to be used as the foundation of a whole-house automation system, and its configuration and higher price tag reflect that purpose.