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HD-ready media server runs Fedora Linux

Jul 11, 2008 — by Eric Brown — from the LinuxDevices Archive — 13 views

Next month, Cirgon will announce and ship a Fedora Linux-based media server that supports 1080i HD resolution. The Encore offers 320GB, 500GB, and 750GB hard drive options, and controls management and playback of music, photos, and video for use with an HD-based home theater system.

(Click for larger view of Cirgon's Encore)

The Encore's software appears to be devoted primarily to managing and displaying photos and music. This is not surprising considering that Cirgon's chief product to date is its 19-inch, flat-screen MediaFrame 100 photo viewer. Like the MediaFrame, the Encore is designed to integrate photo slideshows with custom MP3 playlists, but in this case the display is an attached HDTV instead of a dedicated display.

Weighing 10 pounds and consuming 40 Watts of power, the Encore is based on an undisclosed x86 platform. The back-panel I/O appears to closely resemble Via's Epia EX1500, which like the Cirgon device, offers DVI, TOSlink digital audio out, and audio I/O on stereo equipment-style RCA connectors.

Via Epia EX1500 (top) and Cingon Encore (bottom)
(Click either to enlarge)

The Encore will ship with a 320GB hard drive, with optional 500GB and 750GB drives, says Cirgon. The system is also equipped with a Sony CD/DVD player/burner and a 33-key remote control.

There's no WiFi, Zigbee, or other wireless support. I/O includes a 10/100 Ethernet connection, S-video, and three USB ports. A $100 option appears to add a half- or quarter-height PCI-based audio adapter said to provide digital “7.1” surround sound out for a second independent music “zone.”

Images can be stored on the Encore from a CD, DVD, or from an external, USB-based memory-card reader. Photo management features include cropping, resizing, editing, and creating slide shows. Up to 64,000 JPEG photos (5MB each) can be stored on the 320GB drive version, assuming no other media storage, says Cirgon.

Encore interface screens
(Click to enlarge)

The music software supports ripping and burning of CDs, and setting up a digital music database, including album metadata. The Encore saves music in uncompressed WAV format, as well as MP3, and compression of ripped CDs to MP3 is said to be performed in the background. The Encore also offers backup software for backing up to CDs, DVDs, or an external hard drive.

Typical Encore layout

Specs for the Encore server are as follows:

  • Processor — undisclosed x86 processor with undisclosed memory
  • Display — supports HDTV with 1080i resolution
  • Storage — 320GB hard drive (500GB and 750GB drives optional)
  • Networking — 10/100 Base-T RJ-45 Ethernet
  • USB — 3 x USB 2.0 ports, including one front-facing
  • Remote I/O — IR In, Out; RS232
  • Zone 1 Audio — 1 S/PDIF coaxial and 1 S/PDIF optical, 7.1 surround
  • Zone 2 Audio (optional) — 1-2.5 mm digital, 3 line out, 7.1 surround
  • A/V connections:
    • DVI connector
    • Triple RCA jack for Component Video, 1080i
    • Mini DIN S-Video
    • 3 x RCA (left, right analog audio output; Composite Video)
    • MIC input
  • Audio file types — MP3, WAV, FLAC, WMA, OGG
  • Photo file types — JPEG
  • Video file types — MPEG 1,2,3; WMV 1,2; H.263; H.264; AVI; MOV
  • Power — 100-240 Volts AC; 40 Watts consumption; Standby power <3 Watts
  • Other options — Battery backup; Pro audio form factor with rack-mount ears
  • Operating temperature — 32 to 104 degrees F (0 to 40 degrees C)
  • Dimensions — approximately 17.0 x 3.5 x 10 inches
  • Weight — 10 lbs
  • Operating system — Fedora Linux

Encore's built-in Sony CD/DVD player/burner

According to Cirgon Founder and CEO Darwin Throne, Encore uses Fedora Linux and xWindows. Fedora, which was recently rev'd to release 9, is a free and distributable Linux distro based closely on Red Hat Linux. Fedora is designed to enable developers to create embedded appliances or enterprise desktop Linux images with Fedora in confidence that they are not accidentally redistributing proprietary software.

“We chose Linux for reliability, lower power CPU, and the ability to work within the Linux community,” wrote Throne in an email. “All application software and integration was internally developed without consultants.”


Encore will be available in August, starting at $2,000, says Cirgon. Options include Zone 2 Audio ($100), battery ($100), 500GB HDD ($300), and 750GB HDD ($400).

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