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Russound Smart Media Console SMC-45 Media Center PC Print E-mail
Friday, 09 May 2008
ImageThe Basics:
Russound has long been known for its whole-house music distribution systems. The Smart Media Console is the company’s first foray into the Media Center PC market. With Windows Vista Ultimate as its operating system, the Smart Media Console can be a standalone entertainment product or serve as the foundation of a whole-house control system.

The SMC is available in six different configurations, which vary in hard drive size, processing power and TV-tuning functions. The SMC-45 is a mid-level model with a 1TB hard drive, a 2.4GHz Intel Core 2 Duo processor and two built-in CableCARD/Clear-QAM tuners for receiving HD cable (the SMC-40 is identical in specs, but features internal NTSC/ATSC tuners instead). The SMC-45 does not support high-definition disc playback, but it does have a DVD/CD burner.

Its connection panel has all of the desired A/V outputs, as well as eight USB ports, two FireWire ports, and a 28-in-1 card reader. You can connect the SMC-45 to your home network via the back-panel Ethernet port. The unit does not have built-in Wi-Fi.

Russound is an Exceptional Innovations partner, which means it produces whole-house products that work with EI’s Life/ware system, a software-based automation platform that runs on Windows Media Center. When ordering the SMC through your Russound dealer, you can choose to incorporate the Life/ware software and add compatible whole-house products – like lighting, security, and Russound multi-room music systems – to be controlled through the SMC’s Media Center interface. Given its whole-house intent, the SMC-45 has more advanced control options: two RS-232 and 12-volt trigger ports, one IR input and two IR outputs.
The SMC-45 has a traditional A/V form factor, with an all-black chassis. The package includes an RF remote and wireless RF keyboard.

The Upside:
This product offers excellent video connectivity. Dual CableCARD tuners allow you to record two premium HD channels simultaneously or watch one HD show and record another. The SMC-45 is Life/ware-ready, which means it’s confirmed to be a more stable entertainment and automation platform. Since the SMC-45 is sold only through Russound dealers, you don’t have to worry about potentially complicated set-up and whole-house integration.

The Downside:
Currently, Russound does not offer a Blu-ray drive for the SMC line. The SMC-45 does not have built-in Wi-Fi. The HDMI output is video-only, so optical digital and analog audio are your only output options.

The SMC-45 is a well-endowed, high-end Media Center. While you could use it as a standalone entertainment product, it’s ideally suited for the person who wants to incorporate it into a whole-house system, and its configuration and higher price tag reflect this.

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