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Inside the LifeMedia Media Center PC from Exceptional Innovation - Exclusive Look

First 50 Viiv machines are nearly shipping. We have an inside look at the high-quality components that are "the most expensive pieces from every category."


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Exceptional Innovation is set to ship its first 50 CableCard-ready LifeMedia Media Center PCs, but don't think you can get your hands on one. They're all spoken for. "I can't even get one for my own house," says EI chief Seale Moorer.

EI announced in May that it would develop its own PCs after previous partner HP pulled out of the Media Center business. HP's departure turned out to be a blessing for EI, which was unleashed to make Media Centers the way they should be made.

"It comes down to engineering," says Mike Seamons, vice president of marketing. "That's what's different. We put in the best components. LifeMedia is built for today and built for tomorrow. … I think LifeMedia is going to be pretty close to perfect."

The "built-for-tomorrow" part has to do with EI's patent-pending MediaPlate. The architecture allows integrators to swap out connections when new technologies arise, or when customers' needs change. "You can upgrade the chassis without end-of-lining the box," Moorer says.

Per our original, exclusive story on Lifemedia:


EI took care to make the back panel of the Lifemedia servers look like traditional A/V components, but with the flexibility of standard PC components.

Most Media Centers that are optimized for entertainment may have the right A/V connections, but there’s a hitch: You can’t swap out cards with off-the-shelf PC components; thus, you’re basically stuck with what the manufacturer gives you, or you’re forced to buy their own proprietary parts.

On the other hand, traditional, flexible PCs don’t have back panels that look anything like home theater components.

EI’s patent-pending MediaPlate is an “interchangeable back-panel connection design that lets you put in a combination of video, tuner, and other cards and still maintain the AV style,” Seamons says.
“With many Media Centers, you can’t just go buy and install an upgraded video card. It must be offered custom by the manufacturer. But with Lifemedia servers you can buy upgraded cards and simply order the corresponding MediaPlate.”

Automation Appeal


EI is building LifeMedia with integration and automation in mind. The units have two RS-232 ports for integrating with third-party systems, rear IR control input/output (in addition to an IR receiver on the front panel), and two ports for 12V trigger relays and contact closure devices.

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How does EI keep LifeMedia so quiet and yet so full of fans? View the LifeMedia slide show.


The PCs, which are based on Intel's Viiv Media Center platform, come loaded with EI's Lifeware home automation software.

Prototype LifeMedia Servers have been operating in the field and Seamons says they're running beautifully.

The reliability comes in part because of the high-quality parts put into the machine. "We literally put in the most expensive pieces from every category," Moorer says. B it also stems from the software -- or lack thereof. Unlike traditional Media Center PCs, LifeMedia Servers don't come junked up with third-party software that can undermine the Media Center experience.

"The most important thing is how it comes out of the box," says Moorer. "There's no crap on it at all. All the presets are there [for automation and entertainment] and it comes Lifeware-loaded, ready for automation."



EI has worked with Microsoft for years, and spent millions of dollars honing its Media Center products. "Because it comes from us, you know it's going to be a good product," Moorer says.
That's why several brand-name manufacturers are OEMing products from EI.

See LifeMedia and other exceptional innovations at Lifeware Village, across the street from the convention center.

EI Inside


We got an exclusive, inside look at the EI facilities where the first 50 LifeMedia Servers are being assembled and burned in.

"We're not afraid to open up the case and show exactly what's in there," Seamons says.

For a peek inside, view the LifeMedia slide show.




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Article Topics

News · Product News · Media Center · Media Servers · Media Server · Media Center · All topics

About the Author

Julie Jacobson, Editor-at-large, CE Pro
Julie Jacobson, recipient of the 2014 CEA TechHome Leadership Award, is co-founder of EH Publishing, producer of CE Pro, Electronic House, Commercial Integrator, Security Sales and other leading technology publications. She currently spends most of her time writing for CE Pro in the areas of home automation, security, networked A/V and the business of home systems integration. Julie majored in Economics at the University of Michigan, spent a year abroad at Cambridge University, earned an MBA from the University of Texas at Austin, and has never taken a journalism class in her life. She's a washed-up Ultimate Frisbee player currently residing in Carlsbad, Calif. Follow her on Twitter @juliejacobson.

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