You can’t rip DVDs and other copyrighted video files to the hard drive, but Niveus sells a heavy-duty disc changer called the Ice Vault ($1599) that lets you store and play up to 200 CDs and DVDs. I used the Vault to rip some CDs into the Windows Media lossless format for storage on (and quick retrieval from) the Ranier’s hard drive. It was a quick and painless process, and each CD takes only a few minutes to rip. Niveus also developed a cool program for batch ripping: You load up to 200 CDs into the Vault, select which albums you want using the program, and it rips them one after another to the hard drive, in either Windows Media or MP3 format. The system even retrieves album art and artist info. Talk about convenient.
Niveus sells the vast majority of its servers through dealers, who help out with the configuration and setup with your home theater system; Niveus also has software built into the server to do remote troubleshooting. That’s a relief, because getting all of the audio, video, and networking to work smoothly between Media Center, an HDTV, and A/V receiver can be a chore. Throw in some HDMI issues, and you’ve got the potential for a bumpy ride. In my case, I wasn’t able to get HDMI working properly through our high-end Anthem processor, but it was fine when I hooked it directly to the HDTV.
At first look, you'll be awestruck by the beauty of Sanus Component Furniture. Investigate deeper and you'll see the strength of aluminum pillars blended with the character of solid hardwoods and unique features like tempered glass shelves and a wire management system. Component Furniture includes cabinets, armoires and digital TV stands that configure to your exact needs. Add the Sanus Convection Cooling System that allows air to flow around heat-generating AV gear like a cooling canyon breeze and you have Component Furniture that echoes of quality and performance.
At $4200, the Rainier is by no means a budget media server—it’s designed for those who are serious about audio/video performance and have a home theater system to take advantage of it. If that describes you, the Rainier is one hot rod worth taking for a test drive.