Thursday, December 02, 2004

Windows Media Center '05, just so-so?

Windows Media Center Edition (WMCE) is conceptually a great idea and one that Microsoft would love to see become more mainstream. For the newer "digital world'rs", WMCE is a step towards convergence of PC's and home entertainment. Picture a PC in your living room attached to your television. That PC can record television programs so you can watch them at a time of your choosing. That PC can also play digital music on your home theater stereo system or show off digital photos on your TV. There's much more to it, but I'm sure you get the idea. Hardware Analysis, a site that reviews various hardware, provided a few conceptual issues with WMCE today: "In reality we feel that Media Center Edition 2005 is far from deserving to replace our VCR, DVD player/recorder or photo album for that matter. Why? Simply because the added Media Center functionality is far from flexible and simply can’t keep pace with many of the features offered on devices costing only a fraction of a Media Center Edition 2005 PC." (NOTE: for the full story, click the post title) In the article, they raise some valid points; the largest one being that for the $1500+ you spend on the system, you could get more functionality in a few other devices and spend less. I don't have WMCE, but I'd have to agree. I own a 34" Panasonic HDTV with a separate Panasonic HDTV receiver. I literally use a pair of amplified Terk "rabbit ears" to receive HDTV for free over the air. I also have a Dish Network DVR satellite receiver that allows me to record TV to the built in hard drive. Finally, I have the Dell DJ Digital Jukebox music player that holds 15GB of music. As I posted two weeks ago I spent $5 on a cable to connect the Dell DJ to my stereo. Cost of everything (minus the TV, which would be a separate purchase regardless): Less than $400! Sure, I didn't mention the fact that I can't view my digital pics in this setup, but really...who needs a 34" picture frame? ;>)

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