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Glossary of Media Player Terms

Network device discovery method used to find devices on a local area network. Created by Apple and more prevalent on Apple Macs than Windows PCs.

Low quality analogue video signal format. Can carry NTSC (USA), PAL (Europe), or SECAM (France) video and can be terminated either with RCA plugs (typically USA) or a SCART plug.

Higher quality analogue video signal format. Splits the video signal into two or more components to maintain signal clarity and capable of carrying high definition video up to 1080p. Component usually refers to the YPbPr analogue split most commonly used in the USA, although an RGB split over SCART is often used in Europe. It is worth looking at the details of the media player you are buying to see what specification of Component is being used. Component is rapidly being phased out in favour of digital video via HDMI.

Dolby Digital
See: HD Audio Explained.

Dolby Digital Plus
See: HD Audio Explained.

Dolby TrueHD
See: HD Audio Explained.

DLNA - [Digital Living Network Alliance]
A networking system adopted by major consumer electronics companies to allow networking of consumer electronics devices with DRM inbuilt. The idea is that all DLNA compliant devices should work together with no setting up required. Devices are split into four categories: digital media servers (DMS), digital media players (DMP), digital media controllers (DMC), and digital media renderes (DMR). DLNA can be seen as a simplified, DRM enabled, version of UPnP.

DTS - [Digital Theatre System]
See: HD Audio Explained.

See: HD Audio Explained.

See: HD Audio Explained.


DTV - [Digital Terrestrial Television]
Conventional broadcast television delivered using a digital signal. Offers more channels, additional features, and better quality picture and sound. Can be either SD or HD and in one of several global broadcast standards, the most common of which being DVB-T. The United States uses it's own ATSC standard.

DRM - [Digital Rights Management]
Technologies used to limit access to digital content to that desired by the content provider. DRM mechanisms are often present in content downloads from itunes, Zune. etc. Most Media Players will not DRM files.

DVR - [Digital Video Recorder]
Device that records video content to an internal Hard Drive. Usually will incorporate a tuner with an electronic program guide. Often offers features like pausing live TV, time shifting, record one program whilst watching another. etc.

External SATA connection port for connecting compatable hard drives using a fast SATA link.

Networking system for connecting computing devices in a LAN. Uses RJ45 plugs. Comes in 10Mbit/s, 100Mbit/s, 1Gbit/s, and 10Gbit/s varieties, with the first three all being available for home Media Player use. Generally speaking, the faster the better although anything from 100Mbit/s up should be capable of streaming full-HD video.

FAT - [File Allocation Table]
Widely used computer file system architecture most commonly associated with Microsoft DOS and Windows. It is the most commonly used format for camera memory cards and pre-formatted USB sticks. Has FAT16 and FAT32 incarnations, with the latter being the more modern. FAT is the most compatible file system and every media player will support it.

HD television standard for 1080p quality video, with 1080 vertical lines.

HD - [High Definition]
Used to describe video content that is in one of the high definition video formats. These are broadly 720i/p and 1080i/p. The 720 or 1080 refers to the number of horizontal lines used to define the picture and the "i" and "p" refer to "interlaced" or "progressive scan". Ordinary, "SD / Standard Definition" TV used something between 480 (USA, NTSC standard) and 576 lines (European, PAL standard), depending on your particular country's implementation.

HDMI - [High-Definition Multimedia Interface]
HDMI is an audio/video interface for transmitting uncompressed digital data. HDMI cables are used to connect audio/video devices such as DVD players, Blu-Ray players, Media Players, and TVs. An HD cable can transmit HD video and up to 8 channels of audio. Since it's introduction in 2003 there have been progressive improvements to the HDMI standard, represented by incremental version number increases (1.0, 1.2, 1.3, etc). Broadly speaking, these improvements have allowed greater data bandwidth, higher video resolutions, and more audio channels. HDMI 1.3 is important for Media Players because it allows DTS downmixing.

HD Ready
HD television standard for 720p quality video, with 720 vertical lines.

LAN - [Local Area Network]
A computer network covering a small area, typically a home or a small office. Connections are typically by Ethernet cable or Wi-Fi.

NAS - [Network Attached Storage]
A NAS unit is simply a storage device that can connect to a network independent of a computer. It will have it's own chipset and operating system, controlling the communication with the network. Typically a NAS unit will contain one or many large hard drives. You could use a NAS to allow a Media Player (or several Media Players) access to a large collection of music / movies.

NFS - [Network File System]
A protocol, usually used by Unix systems, to access files over a network.

NTFS - [New Technology File System]
A file system used by Windows from XP onwards.

HTPC - [Home Theatre Personal Computer]
A HTPC is simply a computer that is used (often exclusively) for playing media files. It is often small form factor, more resembling a Hi-Fi stacking unit than a conventional PC.

PVR - [Personal Video Recorder]
A device that records video content to an internal Hard Drive. Usually will incorporate a tuner with an electronic program guide. Often offers features like pausing live TV, time shifting, record one program whilst watching another. etc.

A network protocol allowing access to files over a network. It implements many protocols and is commonly used because of it's compatibility with both Windows and Unix.

SATA - [Serial ATA]
Interface standard for connecting internal hard drives. Replaced ATA / EIDE and is capable of very fast data transfer. Is available as SATA 1 operating at a maximum 1.5Gb/s and SATA 2 operating at a maximum 3Gb/s. In real world use mechanical hard disks will never reach the data transfer ceiling of SATA 1.



Format for carrying audio digitally over either optical (TOSLINK) or electrical (Coaxial) cable. Can carry high quality DTS or Dolby Digital audio.

Standardised optical fibre connection system invented by Toshiba. Typically used to connect the Media Player to a receiver for pass-through of HD audio. In our site, when we refer to digital optical we mean S/PDIF via TOSLINK.

UPnP - [Universal Plug and Play]
A network standard established to simplify networking in the home. UPnP devices are 'plug and play' in that when connected to a network they should automatically connect, enabling other devices on the network to start accessing the device.

Zidoo Z10
3.5" HDD BAY
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