If you'd like to ditch your CD collection in favour of an all-digital music collection but can't face sitting at your PC night after night digitising the buggers, a new NAS might be just what you're looking for.
Called the Ripserver
, it's an Apple-inspired network-attached storage drive combined with a basic 1GHz PC running everyone's favourite multi-talented OS, Linux. With a slot-loading DVD drive, it looks rather like a spray-painted G4 Cube that's fallen over.
Aesthetics aside, the principle is pretty good: you insert a CD and the embedded OS goes online to grab track listings and cover art. Once it's got that, it sets about ripping the audio into either MP3 or FLAC formats – so audophiles needn't complain about their precious music being butchered. The resultant files are then stored on the internal RAID 1 array – no worries about a drive failure here – and made available via the in-built DLNA-approved UPnP media server.
Simplified: you put your disc in and a few minutes later you can listen to the music on your Xbox 360, Sonos, Roku Soundbridge, PS3, and so forth. No interaction required.
The Ripserver is basically a marriage of various open-source packages in a pretty box, using Twonkymedia or Slimserver for the UPnP sharing tasks as an example. It's nothing that you couldn't set up yourself using freely available software, but it's always nice when someone does it for you – especially when they put it in a pretty box you don't have to hide away.
The company behind the product, Ripfactory, has released two versions, one with 500GB storage and the other with an impressive 1TB space. The pricing is quite high for what it is - £599 for the smaller unit and £699 for the bigger of the two – but you're paying for the convenience and the 'shiny' factor.
Although the idea is sound, I can't help but feel the company might have priced themselves out of the market: at that sort of money I'd much rather continue ripping my audio by hand. Still, if they can see their way to dropping the price I'd certainly be interested.
What do you think: every music fan's must-have gadget, or is it pointless when you can do it almost as easily on your pre-existing desktop PC? Share your thoughts over in the forums