I sold my large vinyl record collection in 2002 after lugging boxes of records from home to home, maintaining each with brushes and special liquid cleaners and praying I or someone else wouldn’t scratch one of my beloved records. I held on to my vinyl records for 14 years after abandoning them for the smaller CD format in 1988. I abandoned the CD format in 2006 and converted most of my CD collection to high quality MP3s, replacing my CD players with 8 streaming audio players located in various rooms in our house. Digital audio is fantastic, my entire music collection is stored on a 4-disc NAS 1TB RAID the size of a small toaster and I can access any album or song instantly along with Internet radio stations and Podcasts from all over the world. No more record sleeves to rip or stain, no more CD jewel cases to crack or break, no more searching for a disc or song, no more trips to music stores to buy overpriced CDs or wait weeks for custom orders. I’m a free man. Well…not quite.
We still have a large collection of DVDs in our media room that we keep in a custom built storage bin. The cases come in a variety of sizes from thin plastic sleeves to large bulky boxes that don’t conform to a standard size or configuration. We recently filled the custom storage bin with DVDs and no longer have room for new discs unless we find another storage solution. I think I may have found one.
During my recent convalescence I wanted to watch something other than regular cable TV or the pathetic offerings on pay-per-view (after one week I was ready to cancel our Shaw account!). I downloaded a few movies to my laptop and watched them in bed but it was a bit problematic for a number of reasons including watching a movie on a 15″ screen and listening with headphones to avoid the laptop speakers. If I could only watch downloaded movies on our 52″ flatscreen TV and surround sound audio system life without my laptop or PC, life would be much better. Not only is it possible but it’s easier than you might think. Behold the high definition multimedia player.
There’s a few different players available but do your homework and read reviews before you purchase otherwise you’ll end up returning it the day after, as I did with the Ziova Clearstream CS615. The Ziova is a nasty piece of junk that is poorly built and badly designed. Although I could access my stored video files over the network, it couldn’t mount my external Western Digital USB drive (as it claimed it could do) or do a number of other things it was supposedly designed to do.
I’ve finally settled for the TviX HD M-6500A which costs more (actually more than twice the price of the Ziova) but, as always, you get what you pay for. This unit allows me watch downloaded videos and converted DVDs which can all be stored on the internal 1TB SATA hard drive, on any external USB drive, on my 1TB NAS or any other computer available on a home network. The video streams extremely well over the network (even wirelessly!) which means you can access video files within any shared folder on any computer connected to your network. E-zee P-zee.
Did I mention that the unit also displays JPEG files for your boring onscreen holiday picture parties and plays your ABBA music collection while displaying the cheesy cover art on the TV? It does those things and more but most of all it frees you from the DVD storage nightmare, trips to the DVD video sales or rental stores and allows you to instantly access your videos using a simple remote and onscreen display.
So do yourself a favor. If you haven’t already done it, get rid of your CD’s/DVD’s and move to a digital system for your audio and video. You may still be able to sell your CD’s to a technical Luddite and you can certainly sell your DVD’s for now (have a look on craigslist) but it may be a completely different story in a year or two and you will wish you had unloaded them when you could rather than tossing them in the garbage. Yup, it may come down to that. Think vinyl records and garage sales. Get the picture?