- Created on 11 October 2008
In the last few weeks we have reviewed a couple of media center enclosures. However, if you don't want to have to build a new PC, or you want to add media center functionality to your existing PC setup Antec have the solution.
The new Antec Multimedia Station range incorporates four models including the Basic, E-Z, Elite and Premiere. Each of these comes bundled with iMedia HD software by iMon, which is a standalone media management and playback software.
All four of the models would complement any black system case (unfortunately there are no alternative facias for silver or beige cases) and offer an increasing number of features. The Multimedia Station Basic is simply an internal IR receiver and basic remote, the Multimedia Station E-Z is an external USB version of the same with basic remote, the Multimedia Station Elite adds IR functionality, A VFD display and a much more advanced remote and the Multimedia Station Premiere has the same functions as the Elite, but also has navigation keys built into the facia.
We tested the Antec Multimedia Station Elite and Premiere models and found installation fairly straightforward, although we found the width of the Premiere model a bit of a hindrance when installing (we tried both the Antec P190 and Antec 1200 gaming cases) as we found it required quite a bit of force to fit it into the required free 5.25" bays. The Elite was more straightforward and easily slid into the the spare 5.25" drive bay.
Connection to the motherboard is acheived by a power adaptor that fits inline with the 24 pin mainboard adaptor. The data cable for the mediastations is connected to a free USB header on the mainboard, and the power switch relayed through the medistation (allowing starting of the computer via the remote). The instructions describing installation are very well written and comprehensive.
The iMedian HD software is incredibly easy to use and allows full integration of all media files into a simple to use interface that is also compatible with TV cards and external control software. Additionally the iMedian HD software is compatible with both Microsoft Windows XP and Vista.
The Elite and Premiere versions of the Antec Multimedia Stations also incorporate VFD screens, which can be programmed to show a multitude of system events, including system information, email status, graphic equaliser etc. Both incorporate an independant volume control knob. The Multimedia Station Premiere also includes a set of controls for direct control over media without the remote.
The real benefit of the Elite and Premiere versions can be seen with the deluxe remote control. Whereas the Basic and E-Z only have a remote that gives very basic (but sufficient) control over media, the top two of the range's deluxe remote allows navigation of the PC via a "thumb pad mouse controller" which is more convenient than a standard mouse and keyboard when not at a desk.
We would definitely recommend the Multimedia Station range for people wanting quick and relatively cheap use of their PC as a media center, but if you have the money (and the space), a dedicated media case would normally provide benefits in terms of acoustic noise (quieter) and size (smaller).Available from:
Premiere: Amazon: Antec VERIS Multimedia Station Premier - Infrared receiver
Elite: Amazon: Antec VERIS Multimedia Station Elite - Infrared receiver
E-Z: Amazon: Antec VERIS Multimedia Station E-Z - Infrared receiver