Digital Media Adapters Part 10 – Photos and Music on the HTPC

By Patrick Moorhead - February 21, 2011

In Part 9, I looked at how my new VISION Technology from AMD based Fusion Theater PC (FTPC) handled video, and it was definitely a champ. Today, I’m going to take a look at what I can do with other digital media that I frequently access in the living room. What can my FTPC do with my photos and music?

Music and Audio Content

Like video, the FTPC can play essentially any kind of digital audio, regardless of service, package, CODEC, format, player, or DRM protection scheme. And it plays audio in up to 24-bit, 192 kHz lossless HD splendor.

  • Music streaming services: Pandora, Last.FM, Slacker,, SHOUTcast, Zune and even XM/Sirius.
  • Buy and download music: Unlike the other DMAs, except Xbox, I could preview, buy and play music from iTunes, Zune,, Napster,, and Rhapsody.
  • External storage: Import music from USB sticks, networked PCs, networked or attached storage devices, and Windows Home Server. Only the WD TV Live Hub of all the other DMAs could do this.
  • CD/DVD: If you really wanted to, with an optional CD or USB DVD drive you could play music CDs or even rip a CD. I suppose a few folks still do that.
  • Apple AirPlay: Use AirPlay to play your Apple content from your iPhone, iPad, PC, and Mac.
  • Windows 7 Play To: Play To the FTPC from another PC with Windows Media Player 12.
  • Sync music: Unlike any of the other DMAs, I can buy music with my iPhone, iPod, iPad, Android phone, BlackBerry, Windows 7 phone and directly sync with my FTPC. Use iTunes for Apple and WMP for everything else.
  • Audio inputs: Unlike any of the other DMAs, audio can be brought into the FTPC via the audio-in and microphone-in jack. Karaoke anyone?

Music can be played out over multiple ports, including the HDMI 1.3, coaxial or optical SPDIF, and 1/8” PC audio connectors.

Photo Content

Like video and audio, my FTPC could play back any kind of photo content without compromise. If it’s a digital video photo format, the FTPC can play it.

  • On-line photo services: Upload, download and view on Flickr, Picasa, Facebook, Photobucket, SmugMug, and Kodak Gallery.
  • Buy and download photos: Unlike all of the other DMAs, I could preview, buy and download photos or special background images from services like Corbis.
  • External storage: Import photos from USB sticks, networked PCs, networked and attached storage devices, and Windows Home Server.
  • Play To technology: The FTPC supports Windows Play To and Apple AirPlay with Windows Media Player 12 and iTunes.
  • Sync photos: Unlike any of the other DMAs, I take pictures with my camera or smartphone and directly sync with my FTPC.

Audio and Photo Conclusion

Like video, the FTPC can basically play all forms of digital audio and digital images, commercial and personal. It has unique sync and “play-to” functionality, no other DMA’s have.  To access all of those capabilities required 10′ toggling between Windows Media Center and Boxee. That’s only if you must have a specific service, like Pandora on WMC versus moving to Slacker or Zune.

Next up, I will investigate the FTPC in 10′ gaming environments. Stay tuned.

Patrick Moorhead
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Patrick founded the firm based on his real-world world technology experiences with the understanding of what he wasn’t getting from analysts and consultants. Ten years later, Patrick is ranked #1 among technology industry analysts in terms of “power” (ARInsights)  in “press citations” (Apollo Research). Moorhead is a contributor at Forbes and frequently appears on CNBC. He is a broad-based analyst covering a wide variety of topics including the cloud, enterprise SaaS, collaboration, client computing, and semiconductors. He has 30 years of experience including 15 years of executive experience at high tech companies (NCR, AT&T, Compaq, now HP, and AMD) leading strategy, product management, product marketing, and corporate marketing, including three industry board appointments.