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Exceptional Innovation Life|media LMS-750 Media Center PC Print E-mail
Friday, 09 May 2008
ImageThe Basics:
Exceptional Innovation has established a name in custom-retail and home-automation circles for its Life|ware system, a software-based automation platform 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, music 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 LMS-750 is a higher-end, four-rack-space model with a 3TB hard drive, DVR functionality, a DVD/CD burner and two built-in CableCARD/Clear-QAM tuners to access premium HD channels (for non-cable users, the LMS-700 offers the same specs, but sports dual NTSC/ATSC tuners instead). The LMS-750 currently does not support Blu-ray playback.
The LMS-750 offers two DVI video outputs, one optical digital audio output and one set of 7.1-channel analog audio outputs, as well as eight USB ports, two FireWire ports and a 28-in-1 card reader. You can connect the LMS-750 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-750 has more advanced control options: two RS-232 and 12-volt trigger ports, one IR input and two IR outputs.

The LMS-750 has a traditional A/V form factor, with an all-black chassis. The package includes an RF remote and a wireless keyboard.
The Upside:
The LMS-750 has a large hard drive and ample RAM. It is designed to be a more stable entertainment and automation platform, as opposed to just a PC running Windows Media Center. Dual CableCARD tuners allow you to record two premium HD channels simultaneously or watch one HD show and record another. Life|ware software is preloaded, and this product is only available through custom retailers who are trained to set it up.

The Downside:
DVI is the only video-output option and the LMS-750 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-750 is a high-end Media Center that’s ideally suited for the HD cable user who wants dual-tuner DVR functionality. 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.

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