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What is a Digital Media Receiver?

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  • Written By: Erika C.
  • Edited By: Heather Bailey
  • Last Modified Date: 04 December 2016
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    Conjecture Corporation
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A digital media receiver (DMR), also known as a digital media adapter (DMA), is an electronic device that connects to a home network and accesses digital media files such as pictures, music and videos from a home computer or server. The digital media receiver displays or plays the media on a home entertainment system or television. Some digital media receivers also have integrated speakers and video displays so media can be played back directly on the DMR unit.

Digital media receivers can connect to home networks using either wireless adapters or Ethernet connections. Some receivers can only connect one way, while others offer both wireless and wired options. Both wired and wireless connections have advantages. Wireless connections offer users the capability of accessing media from anywhere in the home, without having to be in close enough proximity to the network router to have a wired connection.

Wired connections, on the other hand, are capable of faster connection speeds, which can be necessary for high-quality music and video playback. Slow connection speeds can cause stuttering sound and pixilated video. With a wireless digital media receiver connection, the shorter the distance between the receiver and the wireless network router, the better the chance of smooth media playback.

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DMRs offer a wide and varying range of capabilities. Some DMRs are designed specifically for one type of media, such as music, and can only play or display that type of media file. Others can handle music, video and photos, and still others include additional capabilities such as recording live television, playing digital radio, creating slideshows, editing photos and browsing the Internet. Some digital media receivers are able to download music and videos directly from media providers.

Digital media receivers usually come with device-specific user interfaces for browsing, searching for and playing back digital media files. This enables users to browse through their digital media libraries and choose which files to view or play without having to use a personal computer or laptop to access the files. Some receivers use a graphical user interface (GUI), while others use a text-only interface.

Many digital media receiver units are capable of playing files that use digital rights management, such as rights-managed Apple® advanced audio encoding (AAC) files, and proprietary file types such as Windows® media audio (WMA). Some digital media receivers are specifically Windows® compatible and use Windows® proprietary digital media receiver software to interact with the home computer or server on which the digital media files are stored. Apple® also makes Macintosh-compatible digital media receivers. Still other receivers are compatible with both Apple® and Windows® computers.

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