Media Center PC

Sony updates gorgeous VAIO L-Series

Sony updates gorgeous VAIO L-Series

Say what you like about Sony, but some of their design really is the dog's proverbials.  Take, for instance, the L-series of desktop media PCs; it's a range that has been available for some time now, but it still looks relatively fresh and interesting.  Of course, while aesthetics might mature gracefully, innards are less forgiving and the time has come for Sony to refresh what comes inside the range of pastel-coloured computers.

 

CableCo’s Raising Set-Top Box Rental Rates

CableCo’s Raising Set-Top Box Rental Rates

The good news is the feature list for set-top boxes should be increasing. Set-Top boxes should also become consumer electronics devices, sold and marketed to the consumer instead of video service providers.

Essentially the reason for the price hike is the FCC is finally enforcing previous rulings which push for user-marketed boxes, whereas the current market is setup so that the various cable companies select the boxes they want to allow their customers to use and only market those boxes to the consumer.

Alienware’s super-high-end Media PC reviewed

Alienware’s super-high-end Media PC reviewed

Early in June when Alienware announced the Hangar18 HD Entertainment Centre I momentarily wondered whether anyone would be daft enough to buy one.  Yes, it's indecently well specified, but at a minimum of $2k (and then the obvious expense of pairing it with a decent surround sound setup, HDTV screen and all the rest of the gubbins) it all seems to be edging into semi-installed territory when for the price you could probably piece together a reasonably similar system and still have cash left over for a few extra toys.  Computer Shopper have shown me the error of my ways, however.

 

‘Magic Box’ media center concept looks like Sonos grown up

‘Magic Box’ media center concept looks like Sonos grown up

Looking quite a lot like an overgrown Sonos unit, and with a strikingly similar remote control design to boot, the ECS 'Magic Box' contains a full Vista Media Center PC rather than any sort of genie.  Shown at Computex Taipei 2007, where it won third place at the Intel Core Processor Challenge, it unsurprisingly runs an Intel Conroe CPU with a maximum 2GB RAM.  Next to the top-mounted optical drive a docking bay keeps the remote - which is a wireless Windows Sideshow unit - charged and ready.

 

Alienware’s Hanger18 Media PC is expensive HD powerhouse

Alienware’s Hanger18 Media PC is expensive HD powerhouse

Here's another one of those times where I wish I was frightfully rich, as opposed to living in a small hutch with a cellphone made of twigs and only the heat from its power adaptor to heat beans.  Alienware have announced a beast of a Media Center PC, the Hanger18, which squeezes some impressive HD hardware into a surprisingly discrete box.

HP’s Monster Media Laptop gets reviewed

HP’s Monster Media Laptop gets reviewed

Samsung's Q1 Ultra might think it has the sexy-stakes all sewn up in the world of portables, but HP's Pavilion HDX uber-notebook is set to seriously overshadow every other machine out there - it's 20.1-inch HD screen, full keyboard with numeric pad anddetachable remote as well as Intel Santa Rosa core all add up to a massively powerful, staggeringly large machine.  LAPTOP Magazine jumped at the opportunity to review a pre-production sample, and came away wowed.

 

Microsoft’s Portable Media Center quietly euthanised 12 months ago

Microsoft’s Portable Media Center quietly euthanised 12 months ago

Oh Portable Media Center, we hardly had a chance to know you!  And if you'd been wondering (what, really?) why you'd not seen any of the devices being launched over the past year or so, well, not only are you a true PVR geek but you're also damned observant.  Because while the rest of us were brushing our teeth, living our lives and drooling over the iPhone, Microsoft were quietly killing off the PMC.

HP scythe away media centre chaff

HP scythe away media centre chaff

I never got around to playing with one of HP's set-top Digital Entertainment Centres, and now it looks like unless I do some eBay trawling I never will; they've culled the whole range.  Apparently "resource constraints" has forced them to choose between the AV-rack style MCE boxes and the newer line of Media Smart integrated TVs and Vista-based PVRs, and they've decided to go with the latter.

 

MythTV vs. TiVo S3… Fight! Fight! Fight!

MythTV vs. TiVo S3… Fight! Fight! Fight!

Back when Windows XP Media Centre first launched, the prohibitive prices of commercial units meant that people either bought a dedicated PVR or those with at least an ounce or two of computer knowledge thought they'd save some money and build their own.  Of course, Microsoft shot themselves in the foot at first by limiting the OS solely to system builders, but as time has gone on the cost of buying an off-the-shelf PC complete with video capture and the 10-foot UI has dropped.  So it's timely that DVR Playground should take a look at home-build favourite MythTV and ask just how well it holds up against TiVo's latest and greatest, the Series 3 set-top box.

Lenovo caters to the unusual lounge with new Vista Media Centres

Lenovo caters to the unusual lounge with new Vista Media Centres

People in the market for a media centre PC are often as equally swayed by the looks of the thing as they are the specifications; after all, if it's going to take pride of place in your living room then it has to at least make a token effort to fit in aesthetically.  Some machines do that by trying to be as small as possible, others go the "high-end hifi" route and gloss themselves up... and then there's Lenovo.  I'm not sure exactly what sort of interior design you'd have to have in order for the ThinkCentre M55 Ultra Small to blend in - a Klingon Bird of Prey theme, perhaps? - but thankfully the guts of the thing stand up to inspection even if the casing is an acquired taste.

 

AV Behemoth – but where’s Vista?

AV Behemoth – but where’s Vista?

A little bit of free consultancy for you all: if you're going to call your product "Clever", you better make damn sure it lives up to the name.  Therein lies the challenge for UK-based CyberSelect, who have seen fit to name their latest Media Centre PC the Clever 3000.  First impressions are okay; it's a big box, for sure, but a relatively handsome one at that, and it wouldn't look out of place in a rack of home AV equipment.  But do the guts of it live up to the name?

 

Well, you can't argue with the storage.  2TB lurks in there, as a 1,500GB RAID array, snuggling up to 2GB of RAM, dual hybrid tuners (or three digital tuners, your choice) and an Intel Core2 Duo processor.

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