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

The Basics:
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.

The Upside:
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.

The Downside:
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.
Manufacturer Exceptional Innovation
Model Life|media LMS-500 Media Center PC
Reviewer AVRev.com

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