Media Center PC

New Microsoft MCE Extenders with useful new features

So, Microsoft, yeah the giants that hide behind Redmond, WA, the very same ones, have finally decided to catch up with everyone else and begin supporting DivX and Xvid in some of their devices. I know, I know, I said “No Wai!” too, but they are really going to do it.

They are partnering with D-Link, Linksys, and Niveus Media to drop some new Media Center Extenders on a new platform called “Extenders for Windows Media Center”. Not only will the new devices finally get Xvid and DivX support, they will also support the new WMV HD and encrypted HD streaming formats as well.


FUZE Media System

Have lots of money to spare and a new house with no A/V equipment yet? Well then, FUZE are the people you want to talk to about a whole home A/V system.

With this package you get the base HTPC which has multiple CableCARD tuners in it. Then there are FuzeMini HD clients, and audio clients. There is also a wall mountable touchscreen interface and a whole-home remote.


Keyspan MCE Remote Runs on RF Instead Of Infrared

Ever had the problem of your MCE remote not having a line of site with your receiver and you can’t do anything without moving yourself or something else? Well apparently so has someone at Keyspan, and thus spawned the RF Vista MCE remote.


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

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. (more…)

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

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

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

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

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

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!

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.


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