Do We need a dedicated server on PC format

Hello all, I asked this question on another thread and thought it would be best to post it on its own.
Among other things, I buy consumer electronics for a living. I have read through a few threads talking about how hard it can be setting up a computer optimized for high quality listening. Last week at a trade show, I spoke with HP & Acer about making a dedicated music server... meaning from the factory, it would have a great processor, proper ram, most likely ssd drives and maybe installed programming ready to go.. i.e. JRiver/Foobar/XXHighend etc. along with instruction on how to shutdown or not use any windows programming that is not needed but they are forced to include. I realize that there are a ton of Mac users out there, I have come to believe that a properly optimized pc using windows 8 can compete quite well with Mac and we should be able to end up with a noticeably lower cost... Acer had a mild interest in our community and recommended that I look at a model S5 as a format or starting point... This minute, it retails for $1399, but I am told that retail is dropping to $999 within the next month or so. It has one of the better i7 mobile capable processors and dual 128gb ssd drives (256), they indicated that these could easily be dual 256 ssd drives without much added cost. They cannot yet ship win 8, but had no problem there... I'm really wondering how much interest we have. I realize that its not skin off anybodies teeth to jump up and say YES, go after it, but I am putting my relationship on the line and it sounds like about a minimum of a 6 month ordeal to develop a new model, so I don't want to spin my wheels nor put a manufacturer through the expense for them to be able to sell 100 units or so. Obviously world wide sales should be better than that, buy you get the idea. I have included a notebook model only, it didn't seem lie there would be any problems developing a desktop solution. I'm really not sure that I can get a manufacturer to really develop this, so I'm after anything that I can find out before I would start pushing, Any input would be appreciated.
You can get a CAPS 2.0 build for around $1,500 - which is pretty much the machine you are talking about. One of the indispensible features is the SOtM tX-USB USB card.
Hi Edorr, yes, the CAPS is a Desktop server. Manufacturers say a lower cost great desktop will be no problem. Seems like more people are using notebook these days, was wondering if we can get a great notebook.
I have read about the 2.0, the info that you supplied about the USB card would be exactly what is needed. What would it take to make a great server....
I would be interested at the prospect of an off the shelf ready to go sleek looking laptop w 14"-16" screen, Intel i5 or i7 2.5 mHz+, 256gb SSD hard drive, 8gb ram, optical out, USB 3.0, DVD/Blu-ray burner, Option for external linear power supply and remote control. Price point $1100 or less. Window 8 upgrade when available. Media Center with Jplay. Stay in touch!
Hi Tim,

I have a few thoughts:

1)A six month development cycle strikes me as ridiculous. You might want to touch base with one of the smaller but well regarded laptop makers, such as Sager, which I believe customizes laptops that are OEM'd by Clevo, one of the major laptop manufacturers in Taiwan (where most of the world's laptops originate, including those from the major American companies). Or perhaps consider a different major manufacturer than Acer, such as Asus.

2)For the desktop alternative, consider going with a well regarded builder of custom computers, such as Puget Custom Computers.

3)I'm not sure that going with Windows 8 is a good idea, for several reasons:

(a)While I personally haven't yet tried out any of the W8 preview versions, what I have heard from a number of people who are computer enthusiasts, and who (like me) build their own desktop computers, is that it is very different than the type of operating system that Windows users have become accustomed to, ever since Windows 95. And those enthusiasts, who are vastly more computer savvy than the average computer user, are finding that even for them a substantial learning curve is necessary.

(b)The initial release of W8 will undoubtedly be immature and buggy to some degree, and will most likely continue to be so until the first Service Pack is released many months afterwards.

(c)The Windows 8 versions of application software that will be used to perform the music server-related functions also figure to have quirks and bugs initially, that don't exist in the Windows 7 versions. Or, if no Windows 8 version is planned by the developers of the particular software, and it is anticipated that the Windows 7 version will run identically on Windows 8, who knows how true that will turn out to be?

IMO. Hope that helps.

Best regards,

-- Al
There are many ways to skin this cat with commodity pcs and laptops. My samsung laptop cost under $500 and windows media player included does a good job ripping. 2 1.5 + TB USB disks ith backup software adds less than $400. Then a squeezebox touch player less than $300. Performance and reliability is top notch.
Hi Al,
The 6 month development time is if they have to form a all new laptop, thats why they recommended looking at the model s5, they could easily use that as a starting point. Remember a company like Acer/HP/Asus will make a small run of a few thousand pieces. They don't operate like the small guys who can use a case in house, select whatever hard drive & processor. They'll need to gear up..... Unless it is based off of a current Platform hense the suggested S5 model. I'm not really sure that will do it or not...I am dealing with the bigger guys, because that is where my relationships are, I buy for a regional rental chain in the midwest. HP/Acer/Asus are our main lines. Next, Win 8, I have a developers copy on dual layer dvd and have a preview copy also. The developers copy definately had some bugs, but the working preview seems flawless. I've been using it for about 4 months. Function wise it does more mirror mac than what we would consider a traditional windows platform, Probably not fair for me to say because I have been buying computers for the last 17 years and at one time, we had our own oem line, so I am fairly computer saavy, but I found it quite user friendly once I figured out just what does what. Of course, it is on a music server, so I haven't had a ton of experience with it, pretty much run music only, but I clearly prefer it over win 7 for sound quality. I don't mean to sound argumentative, just relaying my thoughts as I read through your reply. In reality, I'm really not sure this will go anywhere at all, but right now I have their attention, so I am trying to get a feel from you guys on all that we would like to see on a audiophile model. As Always, I appreciate your advice and everyone chiming in. Hopefully this will pay off for all of us. Tim
An audiophile 'songbook' that does what a music server does in a laptop, makes a lot of sense. If it can be done on the sonic level of let's say, a CAPS 2.0, then you'd have a winner on your hands.

Even if you'd have to go back to a thicker design, so be it. It's not going to go anywhere anyway. Just the thought of going over and lifting the lid and keying in a few strokes would make it very appealing.

But is this economically feasible?

All the best,
Hi Nonoise,
Economically feasible is most likely the real question. The builders that Al recommended are quality builders that stock reasonable quantity and quality parts. I have no direct experience and they would want a cash outlay from me and you are correct that the cost would be higher than a manuafacturer that geared up for a few thousand pieces. Unless someone stepped up and put up the startup outlay for a model being manufactured??? for me, I'm hoping to being able to afford a solution if I can get a manufacturer to bite... I do business with Asus and have built with alot of their parts myself, but my contacts have always been through distribution with Asus, so I haven't had any real discussions with them, Although I know enough people that I believe that I could certainly make a conversation happen to investigate if they would have interest. Maybe I am thinking wrong, but I'm thinking along the same lines as Tom mentioned above for minimum requirements, not sure we need a bd-r, but other than that, everything else seems necessary for high sound quality.
Good luck on this. I feel this is an overlooked aspect. Laymen like me need familiarity and a laptop that is nothing more than a dedicated music server sounds like the way to go. Convenience rules in this market. Everyone knows their way around a laptop to some degree. Even me (I can fake it).

Would a quality headphone out fit? It would broaden appeal.
(just being a sounding board)

All the best,
If you are active on some other forums as I am (AVS forums, Audio Asylum, Audio Circle, Media Center user grp etc.) I would suggest a group buy scenario. On one the cycling sites I frequent we do group buys for bike frames from the OEM with no decals and components as well. Typically we need at least 100 to 200 committed buyers to submitt an order. Parts are shipped direct to the user no middle men and no retail mark-up. Pay via Paypal or Visa.
Thank you so much for your reply guys, with a grand total of 6 of us chiming in and not even all 6 looking at a possibility of wanting this, I'll most likely putz along doing what we do. I have an eval piece coming of the S5 that I mentioned, but at this point, I'm not comfortable to push for something to be done...
Tom, yes, I have accounts with Audio Asylum, Audio Circle, Audio Kharma and DIY Audio, I'm on Agon daily and the others maybe once a month. I'm thinking after seeing this that it would be a real chore to put together a buy... Some suppliers more like Al mentioned would be the best route for a limited one time buy. I appreciate you all, Tim