That library of hundreds of songs, symphonies and sonatas stored on a computer in your home office or den is a phonic treasure trove.
Now to get it to the living room or kitchen, where you spend much more time listening to music.
One of the first products that streams PC-based digital music to anywhere in your house with a phone jack is the Rio Receiver from SONICBlue that shipped last month starting. Gateway is also out with a similar, comparably-priced product.
The Rio Receiver is a little platinum-colored console that is smaller than a bread box with pleasant blue buttons. It sets up easily, comes with a remote control and performs as advertised, playing music in MP3 or Windows Media formats.
I happen to have a network connection in the living room, so installation was a simple matter. I just plugged it in to the network and to a pair of quality speakers in the room.
On the networked PC in my basement office where my music resides I loaded the software that shipped with the Rio. After installation, the program asked to scan my hard drives for music files and permission was granted.
Then I went upstairs, pressed the Rio Receiver's power button and watched the display for signs of a connection to the server software.
I waited and waited, then realized my folly. I had left my Internet firewall software running on the basement PC (we have a broadband connection with the untrustworthy world at large) and it was refusing the Rio Receiver entry.
Back downstairs, I told the firewall software to trust this particular intruder (the server software assigns the Rio Receiver a network address), and then everything worked like a charm.
With the remote, I searched for songs by artist, title or album. Searching by genre or other groupings you've created on the computer is also available.
Sergio Diaz, marketing managing for Rio Home products, says the Home PNA networking standard the Receiver uses allows you to set up as many as eight units in your home off a single computer server