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Windows Media Center Edition vs. The World

timothy posted more than 9 years ago | from the no-compelling-advantage dept.

Media 423

sam_christ writes "An article in today's Investor's Business Daily (Google cache) and an article by TV industry pundit/predictions-huckster Philip Swann say the same thing: that Microsoft's Media Center Edition will be a big flop in 2005. Meanwhile, from what I can tell much more powerful alternatives to Microsoft's MCE bloatware are thriving: commercial products like Snapstream (see their 6-tuner Medusa PVR built for about $1200), Showshifter and open-source freeware like Mediaportal and MythTV. From what I've read about Microsoft MCE and all of its DRM and content restrictions, I have to agree with both of these articles."

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Guess what? (3, Insightful)

justkarl (775856) | more than 9 years ago | (#11209065)

Winner: The World.

Re:Guess what? (1)

KinkifyTheNation (823618) | more than 9 years ago | (#11209079)

M-M-M-M-MONSTER KILL

Re:Guess what? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11209080)

Loser: The World, for watching too much TV.

Re:Guess what? (0, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11209081)

so Microsoft != World?

You Give The World Too Much Credit (3, Insightful)

ackthpt (218170) | more than 9 years ago | (#11209404)

...after all, it's much of the world which has already made Microsoft billyuns and billyuns by unthinking acceptance.

I'm just waiting for the first Media Center Worm article on /.

next up: worm brad corkscrew code

cable co (5, Insightful)

BoldAC (735721) | more than 9 years ago | (#11209069)

The true monopoly here is the cable and satellite companies.

They can package their services and rent them out cheaper than any of us can buy the hardware.

A good MPEG 2 capture card costs $150. Hard drive/CPU/video output is at least $200.

Heck, I can get PVR service for $8 a month.

As much as I would rather do-it-myself... it's hard to beat a rock-stable $8/month service.

Re:cable co (5, Insightful)

Davak (526912) | more than 9 years ago | (#11209114)

Yeah, I agree.

I finally went with the WinTV-PVR-350 for $200 dollars. It does MPEG 2 in AND out. I had an old pent 600 already...

The reason I agree with you is that the cable company's system is so integrated that I think my wife would be able to control it better. I may like the ability to rip everything to DVD... but she just wants to the ability to rip Desperate Housewives easily.

Re:cable co (2, Informative)

gargonia (798684) | more than 9 years ago | (#11209197)

I think the real advantage to "rolling your own" is that you ultimately control the hardware and software on your own equipment. If you want to ignore the broadcast flag (gasp!), increase the storage capacity of your PVR, change the format(s) that can be supported, etc. the only limitations are your knowledge (or lack thereof).

HDTV (1)

samtihen (798412) | more than 9 years ago | (#11209222)

I agree. Cable companies have relatively cheap PVRs available for a monthly fee that gets tagged onto whatever service you already have, which actually makes it bearable.

However, Media Center PCs have lots of other uses too, such as music hubs and DVD management systems.

That said, I am in the market for a Media Center PC. I am putting of building/purchasing one because HDTV support (especially cable HDTV) is not that great (or even available for cable, if I remember correctly).

With single drives in the 400gb range for reasonable prices, I feel that it is time to start pushing HDTV PVRs.

So, what I am waiting for is a (relatively) cheap HDTV cable tuner card.

Anyone got any suggestions?

Re:HDTV (1)

coreymichaelbarr (818343) | more than 9 years ago | (#11209409)

Keep waiting. They aren't reliable and/or at a decent price point yet. You can always just put together the rest of the box and then swap out tuner cards when an HDTV one appears to your liking.

Or you can just wait for the card you like at the price you like, and then that 400 GB drive you're talking about will be even cheaper.

Re:HDTV (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11209492)

This won't happen until those decoder cards that allow you to ditch the stupid cable box are released. Then you can decode the encrypted cable signal (including HDTV) directly on the PC instead of cable box > PC.

Re:cable co (5, Interesting)

dsginter (104154) | more than 9 years ago | (#11209263)

The true monopoly here is the cable and satellite companies.

With that kind of mind set, they are. But lets imagine what could be:

Take a broadband pipe and stick it into a box with - GASP! - unbreakable DRM. Now, the content providers (read: NBC, ABC, CBS, HBO, et cetera) are now free to use bittorrent-like P2P (GASP!) technology for their distribution method - no cableco or satellite company needed.

Here's how it works:

The data is cached in advance (think of it as "buffering" only it does it hours in advance - while you're sleeping, maybe). The box, with its trusty DRM, will not allow the media to be viewed until a preset time. Lets say that you want to catch the Sopranos but you don't have cable. The box will download it in advance and then let you watch it simultaneously with the rest of the world - without a cable or satellite TV company. This will be to TV what the iPod is to music. No monthly subscription - just pay for what you buy. Don't want the commercials? Fine - just pay extra and you'll get the version without them.

The geeks really need to stop hating all aspects of DRM. Ultimately, it will make the world a better place and eliminate eveil entities like the cable companies (though they will just become the bandwidth providers).

Re:cable co (5, Insightful)

JWW (79176) | more than 9 years ago | (#11209394)

DRM in the fantasy world you've laid out here wouldn't be too bad. But, theres only one problem. The networks will NEVER EVER DO THIS!!! Do you really think that the same networks that work so hard on their timeslots and schedules are interested in using DRM to give you on demand viewing? No their interest in DRM is to prevent you from ever recording the program so that your only choice if you want to watch it is when they say and how they say. They do not want customers to be happy and get what they want, they want control.

Look at the recording industry, there are dozens of things I can think of where they could really benefit from better distribution of electronic media, and they have done none of those things. Its all control, don't let them sucker you into DRM, with their empty promises of on-demand.

Re:cable co (3, Insightful)

dsginter (104154) | more than 9 years ago | (#11209503)

The networks will NEVER EVER DO THIS!!! Do you really think that the same networks that work so hard on their timeslots and schedules are interested in using DRM to give you on demand viewing?

The technology that I've laid out would not be any different from the current television experience that we have today. The DRM would provide the media to be viewed in a strict timeslot. Say, The Daily Show comes on at 7:00PM? Well then lock it down on the DRM box so that it comes on at 7:00PM. Commercials are mandatory for those that don't pay for the non-commercial version. How is this any different to the end user except that they've got more options?

If the content provider chooses, they could "allow" the media to be "purchased" and viewed at any time after the initial airing. Perhaps yet another option is that "premium members" could watch the shows in advance. The possibilities are endless. Yet another twist is that the "little guy" can make his own shows and become rich without having to worry about toppling the wall that is the media today.

With good DRM, you can do anything. But there has to be profit motivation for the providers. That free stuff doesn't work in a Capitalist economy (as much as we would all like it to). Yeah, that sucks but if "we the geeks" don't invent this, some enterprising - possibly evil company - will do it and we'll all be bitching about how the implementation was screwed up.

Re:cable co (3, Interesting)

CashCarSTAR (548853) | more than 9 years ago | (#11209453)

You can..mostly do that without DRM, you know.

It's quite easy. You just don't upload the files until the day of. Some people might be able to watch it an hour or two early, but to be blunt, that's not a terrible loss. Advertisers? You'd just match the advertising for the TV media with the Internet media.

And it doesn't have to be DRMd. People can already use a TV tuner card to rip, remove commercials and resend it out. Another source is going to do nothing to this ability. What it WILL do, is that it will make the authorized broadcasts with commercials, come in a higher quality, and easier to obtain. Which will for the most part put the P2P nets out of that material. Now, you'll still see P2P trading, mostly of fan-subs of anime and any show that the network is stubborn upon, but of those shows, the revenue for the networks will actually go up.

I'm thinking a BitTorrent type client. You log on, and you can sort by shows by network and independents (who would have access to this as well, can sell their own ad time). Choose the ones to download and it would start downloading. It would be watermarked, so if any of the files with commercials went onto P2P networks, they could track it, and the advertisers could now how many people have watched their advertising. (What..and saving the networks bandwidth costs is a bad thing?), but the files would be instantly transferrable to any OS, and the whole new market of handheld media players.

In this way, the networks, for a minimum of cost, would actually nip TV trading in the bud, actually competing so aggressivly to render it moot. The only potential problem is for DVD sales, but if you have it in a higher quality, and add in lots of extras, DVD sets will sell to the most avid fans, which is what most do now anyway. There are very few that are priced for mass consumption.

Re:cable co (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11209302)

FYI, WinTV PVR 150 is like $80.

And thanks to Microsoft's true monopoly, we're getting better hardware for TV. Much better. Standardized even.

Check the contract (3, Interesting)

Penguinoflight (517245) | more than 9 years ago | (#11209370)

I can see why your cable co's deal looks good now. Consider the disadvantages though:

1. Cable co can increase rate (look at contract)
2. Cable co might be paid off to rid people of PVR's.
3. $8/month will cost $350 in just under 2 years.

So, let me get this straight (5, Insightful)

daveschroeder (516195) | more than 9 years ago | (#11209073)

Windows XP Media Center Edition, a specific media center product, is a flop, and the articles you link to - which you say you agree with - talk generically about consumers not thinking about PCs in the living room or of computers as entertainment devices, but you think other commercial media center products - which are embodied by the idea of PCs in the living room or of computers as entertainment devices - are "thriving"? Especially when the articles - which you agree with - say that the problem with media centers is that, since they're a computer - a whole other computer, mind you - they're more complex, and normal[1] consumers will never even consider them as an entertainment center component?

Is there a disconnect here?

Actually, aside from whether or not it will be a commercial failure, Windows XP Media Center Edition 2005 actually works famously (have you ever tried it?), MUCH better than previous iterations of the product, and it supports multiple tuners (i.e., >2), lets you archive your recordings to CD or DVD, can support transmitting its content to any other PC, media center extender, or Xbox, etc. - not to mention that for a NORMAL person, it's essentially an integral part of Windows, gets updated along with the OS, and represents a major product from the majority platform, etc.

And, by the way, I absolutely loathe Microsoft and its business practices over the years in general, but let's at least be realistic here: you can't "agree" with those articles, especially Swann's, and then say that other media centers are "thriving".

[1] "Normal" here means, like, actually a normal person. Not slashdot readers. Not engadget readers. And frankly, not even savvy computer users.

Re:So, let me get this straight (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11209116)

Let me guess, you also believe that the xbox is "actually doing pretty well"...

Fucking nimrod.

Re:So, let me get this straight (5, Insightful)

Megaweapon (25185) | more than 9 years ago | (#11209139)

In other words, random pundit predicts future slow sales of a MS product while competitors will thrive... AND SLASHDOT IS THERE! It's a good thing someone agrees with those articles, I wouldn't know how to react!

Windows MCE won't be "mainstream" product. (2, Insightful)

MtViewGuy (197597) | more than 9 years ago | (#11209252)

Mostly because it requires pretty expensive hardware to implement WinMCE.

I still see WinMCE has a relatively niche product until the hardware that can fully implment it get really cheap over the next few years.

Snapstream? (4, Interesting)

slavemowgli (585321) | more than 9 years ago | (#11209083)

Snapstream? Been there, done that, and found that it's even worse bloatware than what our friends in Redmond put out. Maybe it's changed by now (it's been a year or two for me), but I doubt it - if you have a company that seems to value bloat (for whatever reason), it's unlikely that future versions will contain less of it.

Re:Snapstream? (1)

Cylix (55374) | more than 9 years ago | (#11209175)

It's pretty much at the basics now.

Record, compress, view and channel guide.

Yeah its a little hefty code wise, but on the windows side of life there isn't that much in the way of competition.

In any event, they have opened up some of the code for people to work on.

They did drop divx support though (unless you previously had divx support) and then they have you a plugin. Me, I wrote a script to convert to divx in the over night.

Re:Snapstream? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11209516)

Not much in the way of competition?

Or do you mean worthy competition?

Pretty much every TV tuner card already has its own VCR application, some with program guide support.

Plus there are several other VCR w/ channel guide software products other than Snapstream, e.g. the stuff from the WinDVD and PowerDVD folks.

Word to Microsoft and others it may concern (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11209084)

Obsession over DRM will cause your product to fail. There comes a time when you have to tell RIAA and MPAA to fuck off.

Restriction of a technology that is easy to implement is not going to work.

A hundred supreme court rulings will not change that.

People hate DRM (3, Insightful)

Lisandro (799651) | more than 9 years ago | (#11209085)

It's a fact. Most people are sheep and will go along with anything forced to them, but DRM acceptance has it's limits. I know a lot of people who asked me for help on making their DVD players zone-free, for instance.

If you restrict usage too much, people will seek for alternatives. For DRM done (arguably) right, check Apple and iTunes.

Re:People hate DRM (3, Insightful)

garcia (6573) | more than 9 years ago | (#11209172)

It's a fact. Most people are sheep and will go along with anything forced to them, but DRM acceptance has it's limits. I know a lot of people who asked me for help on making their DVD players zone-free, for instance.

Well, I don't know who you are dealing with but NO ONE that I know has a fucking clue what region encoding is and they certainly don't ask me how to get rid of it.

You know why they don't care? Because it doesn't affect them one bit... People I know go to the video or retail store, pick out a movie, and watch it. Region encoding doesn't stop that.

Perhaps if you said that they asked you how to remove "the color fades when they record to other media from DVD" I would be more likely to believe you.

For DRM done (arguably) right, check Apple and iTunes.

How do you figure? Because you can easily get around it? Or because you agree with their DRM? Personally, Apple's DRM is to support lockin to their portable music player and to their store. Yeah, you can play MP3s on the device but if you want to get music legally you are probably going to go to iTMS (most people don't know about other alternatives such as allofmp3 [allofmp3.com] ).

Re:People hate DRM (1)

Lisandro (799651) | more than 9 years ago | (#11209253)

Oh, come on. You never brought an imported DVD, fine. Like i said, i know a lot of people who do, and frankly, it's not so hard to imagine happening. Nothing gets more on ones' nerves than popping in a DVD and witnessing a screen saying "Oh, sorry, can't play this DVD - only for players purchased in Europe / Japan / whatever". Yeah, that's surely going to stop piracy...

As for Apple, is debatable, but it's "done right" in the sense it never gets too much in your way. Of course, it's a vendor lock-in tool to sell iPods, but you can burn your tracks to CDs with relative ease or play them somewhere else.
Personally, i don't want DRM of any kind, but if it HAS to be there, i'll take the Apple approach any day.

Re:People hate DRM (2, Insightful)

jedidiah (1196) | more than 9 years ago | (#11209266)

There are plenty of people that want more than just American content. Sure, these types of people are real weirdos when compared to the average consumer. However, they are out there in signficant numbers.

Otherwise, the vendors selling region free players in the US would have no business.

Anyone that might have interest in foreign SAT channels (or just the BBC) will likely eventually want something not encoded as region 1.

Re:People hate DRM (1)

CrackedButter (646746) | more than 9 years ago | (#11209401)

I use bleep as well as iTunes.

People are oblivious to DRM, iTMS sucks (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11209313)

It's a fact. Most people are sheep and will go along with anything forced to them, but DRM acceptance has it's limits. I know a lot of people who asked me for help on making their DVD players zone-free, for instance.
But they still bought the DVD players, didn't they? Most people won't take the time to either seek out a zone-free DVD player (which is what would really hurt their bottom line), or to mod the player themselves.

Don't get me wrong, I hate DRM, but for the most part people seem quite content to use products limited by it.

For DRM done (arguably) right, check Apple and iTunes.
Umm.... what?!?!? I don't buy from the iTunes music store. It would actually be convenient for me, since I do for the most part pay for my music. But the DRM is such a pain in the ass. You can only transfer the song to so many computers. You can only burn it in the same playlist X amount of times. This is incredibly stupid - you're paying almost full price for the files - and CDRs are a very fragile media. Yet if I scratch up too many copies of the CD, I can't reburn it without adding silence or rearanging the tracks?

Or to get around this, I have to burn and re-rip. Which is unacceptable to me as a paying customer.

Oh yeah, and you have to accept an EULA to get MUSIC. Can you imagine having to initial an EULA at a rercord store to make a purchase?

My final, non-DRM related beef with iTMS is that many albums are only partial. WTF? I don't want just the single. I'm not going to pay $10 for an incomplete album that I can only burn 3 times.

Un-Biased Title (-1, Offtopic)

TrollBridge (550878) | more than 9 years ago | (#11209086)

Thanks for letting me know that this article is about an OS that wants to conquer and rape and pillage, and not just another software review. I was beginning to think that Slashdot was developing a pro-Microsoft bias.

The new Ukranian first lady (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11209087)

She's goddamned hot [tymoshenko.com.ua] !

Re:The new Ukranian first lady (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11209220)

She's definitely got that "naughty librarian" look about her. Think she'll do a Dirty Sanchez?

I'D POISON IT (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11209308)

Re:The new Ukranian first lady (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11209348)

At least until she get dioxin slipped into her soup.

But, I am impressed, particularly since she is 44 years old.

The Question To Ask Anyone Who Is Building One (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11209091)

"Why?"

It seems that only pretty diehard MS people feel the need to spend more money and effort to get what everyone else can get with cheaper and easier to setup and use solutions.

Why isn't Apple in the PVR/DVR space? (5, Interesting)

jacobcaz (91509) | more than 9 years ago | (#11209096)

Steve Jobs' is constantly promoting the Mac as the center of my digital-hub enabled lifestyle so why isn't there a PVR/DVR based on Apple hardware?

Face it, Apple does this shit right. It would be TiVo-easy, probably easier, dead sexy to look at and would integrate with your iPod and desktop or laptop for on-demand streaming. And the best part is...It Would Just Work(tm).

Everyone said, "No one will buy an iPod! Are you crazy?" and now it's the geek-chic accessory of darn near everyone. Why wouldn't a PVR/DVR from Apple be the same? Once it's on enough episodes of Cribs or put into enough cars on Pimp My Ride everyone will want one.

Re:Why isn't Apple in the PVR/DVR space? (1)

mOoZik (698544) | more than 9 years ago | (#11209168)

Because the Apple name isn't some kind of a magic dealie. The iPod was successful because it offered a LOT, was cute, had the Apple name on it, but more importantly, because it had the iTunes store to back it up and was introduced when the overall popularity of the devices was starting to take off. I think TiVo has cornered the market and a small company like Apple will be hard pressed to take away significant market share.

Re:Why isn't Apple in the PVR/DVR space? (2, Informative)

Scyber (539694) | more than 9 years ago | (#11209217)

Wasn't the iPod launched before the iTunes Music Store was launched?

Re:Why isn't Apple in the PVR/DVR space? (1)

jacobcaz (91509) | more than 9 years ago | (#11209226)

  • Because the Apple name isn't some kind of a magic dealie. The iPod was successful because it offered a LOT, was cute, had the Apple name on it, but more importantly, because it had the iTunes store to back it up and was introduced when the overall popularity of the devices was starting to take off. I think TiVo has cornered the market and a small company like Apple will be hard pressed to take away significant market share.
Apple's name wasn't magic but it probably has more brand recognition now than ever before. You don't think an Apple PVR/DVR wouldn't offer more features? From the people who do GUI design right? TiVo has the market cornered because it's currently the best choice out there. Give the market a better choice and TiVo won't be the market leader. In fact a lot of early market leaders end up losing and folding when the 3G players show up with better/newer features. TiVo has been very good at adapting, but I still think Apple can do it better.

Finally, Apple hit a huge home run with the iTMS. You don't think they coudln't parlay their success with the RIAA into a deal with the MPAA for movie-on-demand and TV-on-demand downloads? Are you kidding? I'm sure there are a lot of people out there who would pay $2.00 for an episode of Friends if they could keep it around on their hardware and play it on their laptop while traveling. Apple does DRM just right and this would be what's needed to get the traditional media outlets comfortable with digital distribution of their content.

Re:Why isn't Apple in the PVR/DVR space? (2, Interesting)

MtViewGuy (197597) | more than 9 years ago | (#11209346)

Finally, Apple hit a huge home run with the iTMS. You don't think they coudln't parlay their success with the RIAA into a deal with the MPAA for movie-on-demand and TV-on-demand downloads?

If there is ANYONE out there that could parlay legal downloads for video programming, it's Apple Computer. The success of the iTunes Music Store has shown that you can make money on a legal download service for multimedia, so why no develop an iVideo store to download near-full screen DRM-protected QuickTime files? With the rapid ascension of broadband use here in the USA, there are enough Internet users out there to make this service viable.

Besides, Apple CEO Steve Jobs is very well-liked in the Hollywood community, so he has the "juice" to influence Hollywood types to implement this idea.

Re:Why isn't Apple in the PVR/DVR space? (1)

mOoZik (698544) | more than 9 years ago | (#11209365)

If what you're saying is accurate, why would Apple not seize on the opportunity? Frankly, what you're suggesting could be applied to just about any consumer electronics or service that Apple could potentially take on. I don't know if it's as simple as you suggest, though. Maybe "luck" should be factored into the success of whatever product in whatever market.

Re:Why isn't Apple in the PVR/DVR space? (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11209278)

"Face it, Apple does this shit right. It would be TiVo-easy, probably easier, dead sexy to look at and would integrate with your iPod and desktop or laptop for on-demand streaming. And the best part is...It Would Just Work(tm)." ... and would cost 3x as much as everything else on the market.

""No one will buy an iPod! Are you crazy?" and now it's the geek-chic accessory of darn near everyone."

well i guess im not chic enough to blow $500 on geeky accessories when a $40 cd player does just fine for me.

I feel your pain, but... (4, Informative)

daveschroeder (516195) | more than 9 years ago | (#11209285)

...Apple, in the form of Steve Jobs, has said numerous, numerous, numerous times, publicly and very specifically, that he doesn't believe in any kind of convergence, or any interactivity between TV and computers. As he has said numerous times: When you use a computer, you turn your mind on. When you watch TV, you turn your mind off. They two worlds are not compatible. Now, whether that's just gimmicky-speak, and whether it's ultimately true aside, Steve himself believes it. And on top of that, Steve, even as CEO of Pixar, is one of those "kill your television" types, so I don't see him getting behind a PVR/AV component type project.

HOWEVER, some evidence points in other directions:

AirPort Express: an AV component that lets you stream music from your computer to an analog or digital audio output on a wireless device that's part of your entertainment system

iPod Photo: an increasingly large hard drive in a product that has a dock that is, in part, intended to be part of an entertainment system that has audio and composite video and S-video output (think iTunes Movie Store: download movie, sync with iPod, drop in dock that's hooked up to your TV, and play)

New headless sub-$500 iMac: ThinkSecret is almost ALWAYS spot-on with these stories, so it's probably true. This could easily be an AV component IF it includes tuner capabilities, or some provision for adding them

Apple/Motorola cell phone, possibly co-branded or even Apple-branded: Yes, this really is happening, folks. If an Apple VP talks about it to Forbes, it was explicitly approved by Jobs. This proves Apple is willing to branch out into other markets.

With the "Digital Hub", Apple has addressed every possible kind of connectivity and device: scanners, printers, digital cameras, digital camcorders, phones, PDAs, the computer, movie editing, CD creation, music, DVD authoring, portable music players, etc. - everything, that is, EXCEPT TV. Yes, there are sticky issues here, of copyright, of rights management, etc., probably even worse than what was dealt with for the iTunes Music Store. Not to mention the problems of dealing with different TV reception standards in different countries, and the fact that you'd need to be able to DIRECTLY TUNE encrypted digital cable and satellite services, in all markets, to even begin to make this worthwhile for Apple. They're not going to have people hook up crap to random external equipment. So until there are universal standards (like CableCard) for allowing devices OTHER than set top boxes to tune the digital TV services, it just doesn't make sense.

But if Apple made a device in this space, it would be the iPod of PVRs, and would have the ease of use, integration, and fabulous attention to detail and usability we've all come to expect from Apple.

We can only hope...

Re:I feel your pain, but... (2, Insightful)

jacobcaz (91509) | more than 9 years ago | (#11209471)

  • Steve, even as CEO of Pixar, is one of those "kill your television" types, so I don't see him getting behind a PVR/AV component type project.
Steve can be a "kill your television" type all he wants, but his first duty is to the shareholders at Apple. If he fails to keep the profits up and the shareholders happy then he can be replaced...again.

If the shareholders demand it because they see a potential windfall from Apple dominating the PVR/DVR market.

Sadly, no matter how much Steve doesn't want to integrate "TV" into the digital hub is has to be there at some point to have a complete solution. People are going to watch TV whether or not Jobs likes it. If I'm going to have a "digital hub" lifestyle, I want to use Apple-brand solutions because It Will Just Work(tm).

Re:Why isn't Apple in the PVR/DVR space? (1)

conteXXt (249905) | more than 9 years ago | (#11209304)

" No one will buy an iPod! Are you crazy?" and now it's the geek-chic accessory of darn near everyone.

Why wouldn't a PVR/DVR from Apple be the same? "

it would be too bulky to put in your pocket?

Re:Why isn't Apple in the PVR/DVR space? (2, Interesting)

MtViewGuy (197597) | more than 9 years ago | (#11209452)

it would be too bulky to put in your pocket?

True now, but not so much a problem maybe 12-24 months from now.

I mean, look at Sony's new Playstation Portable. It's certainly not perfect, but it points to some enormous potential with portable video devices. With tiny iPod-compatible hard drives reaching 80 GB capacity already and battery technology improving, what's to say that by January 2006 Apple announces the video equivalent of the iPod with a 120 GB hard drive, decent battery life and a nice, small 16:9 aspect ratio LCD screen with USB 2.0/IEEE-1394 connections to download DRM-protected QuickTime files from your computer that you downloaded legally from the "iVideo" online store?

Re:Why isn't Apple in the PVR/DVR space? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11209321)

The $300 Formac TVR does this amazingly well.

Re:Why isn't Apple in the PVR/DVR space? (3, Insightful)

bushidocoder (550265) | more than 9 years ago | (#11209383)

I think its alot of investment with relatively little payoff - They don't have the technology now, so they'd have to invest in creating it, or acquire a company like Tivo that already does. The problem is, even Tivo can't compete in the market they created. As has been mentioned before, my cable company charges me 6 bucks a month for their DVR service, and they provided the hardware for free. How is Apple (or Microsoft for that matter) supposed to be profitable competing with that?

There is a market for people who would want to digitally edit tv content for various purposes - and with iLife the Apple is the perfect platform to do that on. I think that puts them in such a legal mindfield that they don't want to go there. Microsoft DRMs the hell out of the feeds you save in order to keep the industry at bay, and Apple would pretty much have to do the exact same thing in order to keep the content industries appeased. Apple may be profitable, but one thing that could utterly destroy Apple is to be on the losing end of a multibillion dollar lawsuit.

Re:Why isn't Apple in the PVR/DVR space? (1)

Indiana Joe (715695) | more than 9 years ago | (#11209512)

What do you think the, "sub-$500 Mac" is going to be? That's right - it's going to be a media PC! All it needs is the PVR software (and maybe a DVD burner upgrade), and it's ready to roll.

I tend to agree (3, Interesting)

raitchison (734047) | more than 9 years ago | (#11209098)

IMO people who are tech savvy who would be more inclined towards a PC based system (as opposed to an appliance like TiVo) will be non-plussed by the infelxibility and restrictions in MPC.

The "sweet spot" that MS is targetting, that I'm not sure exists as a viable market is the consumer that wants to run their media on their single PC. Figure the odds that the person ready to control their entertainment with a PC has only one PC.

As a current user... (5, Interesting)

mzwaterski (802371) | more than 9 years ago | (#11209125)

As a current user of Windows Media Center, I'd have to disagree that MCE will be a big flop. MCE is one of the most robust packages that I've seen from Microsoft. To put it simply, it just works. And this is coming from someone who is using an unsupported TV card with hacked together drivers. The system properly wakes my system from standby and records my programs. The best part, its extremely easy to use! I hate to sound like a fanboy, but I've just been blown away by the quality of this product.

That said, I agree that the cost of prebuilt MCE systems is too high. I think what we need to see is scaled down systems in A/V cases that cost around 999$. I've priced out building my own systems and they can be built well below this price on Newegg, so I would think that a PC manufacturer should at least be able to come close.

In regard to the other packages out there...I had nothing but problems with BeyondTV and Sage, but it was mostly due to lack of support for my ATI AIW card. One thing I did notice in the process, though, was that MCE had much simpler and more intuitive interfaces than these other applications. Frankly, I think that an average user would not even consider messing with one of these programs when they could buy an MCE box all configured and ready to go.

Re:As a current user... (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11209189)

Thanks for giving everyone an insight of what type of idiot would waste their time with MS's MCE.

IAWTP (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11209297)

Re:IAWTP (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11209371)

Be nice to him, he's a moronic Micro$oft fanboy with a disgustingly high uid. Oh, wait..

Re:As a current user... (1)

mzwaterski (802371) | more than 9 years ago | (#11209425)

That comment from an AC really carries a lot of weight...

Re:As a current user... (2)

stratjakt (596332) | more than 9 years ago | (#11209299)

I agree, MCE is pretty cool.

The one thing holding it back, IMO, was that it was only available to OEMs, and thus you could only get it if you spent $3000 bucks on some crappy Dell system.

Now you can get the OS by itself, and get it running on cheaper stuff you have laying around. Just for the sake of playing around, I got it up and running on my Voodoo 3 3500, like you, with hacked/cobbled drivers.

I'm sufficiently impressed that I plan to put my TiVo up on eBay and use the proceeds to invest in a decent AIW card.

BTW, linux' terrible support for ATI cards in general - or ATI's terrible support for linux (depends on your point of view), is and will continue to really hurt projects like MythTV. I'm not interested in hunting down and spending more on some other card zealots claim is "better" (when in actuality, it's not better - it's just the only thing supported).

Market factors (1)

LiquidCoooled (634315) | more than 9 years ago | (#11209129)

MS has OEM partners to release its software to and can therefore push what the consumer sees in the big stores.
You have to look further or head online to see none MS software.
Joe public sees microsoft in the same way as Sony or even Heinz, something to look out for.

Also the google cache, how come we can have a cached version of this article, and yet when its NYT we have to do the signin thing, even though a no signin google entry point is almost always available?

MythTV is only free if your time is worthless (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11209134)

So if I want a MythTV box, I just have to build a computer out of parts that are compatible with Linux, select an appropriate Linux distribution, install everything, configure all my hardware, build some kernel modules for the esoteric hardware, load the modules, download MythTV, install, configure, upgrade, install extra crap, configure, upgrade, and then I'm finally ready to begin the final process of tweaking my system until MythTV 0.17 comes out.

If I want a Windows Media Center box, I go to the store and buy one.

Looks like MythTV is still a myth to me...V.

Re:MythTV is only free if your time is worthless (2, Insightful)

jedidiah (1196) | more than 9 years ago | (#11209301)

Utter horsesh*t.

Installing MythTV is just a matter of installing MythTV on top of Linux. While that process could stand some more automation, it is not the herculean task that you claim it to be.

There are live CD images for MythTV as well as dedicated installers. Even installing MythTV on something like Debian is pretty simple.

"building kernel modules" is such a 1995 Wintroll comment.

Re:MythTV is only free if your time is worthless (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11209418)

This is not true. I have a winfast leadtek expert 2000 xp and it will work fine in tvtime but not myth. It causes segmentation faults and errors and you must manually edit modules.conf and set the tuner properly to even detect the north american channels....i love linux but lets face it, it doesnt like me.

I have an athlon 2400 that runs fine but refuses to work with this card, where as windows it works fine (granted mediaportal needs some work but is coming along much faster than myth which doesnt even have a forum, just a very hard to use mailing list).

And it hasnt seen a new release in 3-4 months now.

Re:MythTV is only free if your time is worthless (2, Insightful)

pilot1 (610480) | more than 9 years ago | (#11209468)

Umm, no, Mr Coward. It's called Gentoo. Install with Anaconda, type emerge mythtv. You now have MythTv, wasn't that hard? Use genkernel to compile your kernel if you're lazy, and now you have the drivers for your mpeg card and all that fun stuff.

Oh, wait, there's a new version of MythTV?! And you also want to upgrade the other programs just for the hell of it?! It's called "emerge sync && emerge -uDv world". Now your system is completely up to date.
Now try and tell me that's hard.

Re:MythTV is only free if your time is worthless (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11209486)

I use apt-get and the "latest" drivers for my card have so so quality.....and I dont have the time to compile gentoo from scratch....and last i knew, emerge didnt do cvs now did it?

You all just wait (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11209144)

We'll get the FCC to require any PVCR to be required to use the one true OS, then where will you be? Eh?

Shhh, and we're putting in a special anti-terrorist filter that will let the OHS know just who is watching too many shows on the Discovery channel that teache how to blow things up.

My ReplayTV is still better (2, Informative)

vision33r (829872) | more than 9 years ago | (#11209160)

No bloatware, no Microsoft vulnerabilities to patch and works just like my toaster oven.

The only problem with ReplayTV (2, Funny)

Scyber (539694) | more than 9 years ago | (#11209273)

is that it works so well I had to buy more. I now own 3!

Obligatory Microsoft joke (4, Funny)

suso (153703) | more than 9 years ago | (#11209167)

"The day Microsoft makes a product that doesn't suck is the day they make a vacuum cleaner."

Re:Obligatory Microsoft joke (1)

proverbialcow (177020) | more than 9 years ago | (#11209421)

"The day Microsoft makes a product that doesn't suck is the day they make a vacuum cleaner."

They would make a vacuum-cleaner that doesn't suck, which means it doesn't do what it's supposed to, which would suck....and look there! My brain just melted.

Luckily, they could still include a BSOD feature - Blue Smoke of Death. Judging from the most recent poll, you can activate it by not reading the manual.

Define "flop"? (4, Insightful)

StrawberryFrog (67065) | more than 9 years ago | (#11209181)

Microsoft v1.0 products don't always have to make money. They are often aimed at gaining market share, leveraging related product areas where Microsoft is already dominant, learning what the customers really want, and generally harassing the competition as a prelude to crushing them with a version 2 or 3 product.

WTF? (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11209210)

What's with all the Windoze stories? Has Slashdot sold out to the dark side? The incessant Micro$oft flash ads sure make it seem so.

From what I've read about Microsoft MCE..... (5, Interesting)

stratjakt (596332) | more than 9 years ago | (#11209219)

In other words, you haven't seen or used it yourself.

Neither has the author of TFA.

You all hate MSFT, and want to see them fail in the home. And this guy is your hero because he predicts that MS sucks. That's all fine and good.

But remember Sun Tsu's first and most important rule of war: Know your enemy.

The most rabid zealots show again and again that they have no fucking idea what MSFT products can do, or how they work.

That said, MCE's actually pretty well put together. It's far beyond MythTV, especially when it comes to hardware support.

And the DRM is on the CONTENT. You only use it if the CONTENT requires you use it. The DivX files you download off KaZaa will play the same in MCE as they do in linux.

But, MCE can play those movies you pay a few bucks to download off the 'net, will MythTV? My point being, OSS projects need to incorporate the same thing. The lack of legit DVD support has already crippled linux as an "entertainment" platform.

Look how well iTunes is working. Bandwidth is going up dramatically, theres a lot of fiber to the home happening. It wont be long before there's an (actually *working*, high-def) iTunes for movies - and OSS better not miss the boat.

Movies (3, Insightful)

jaoswald (63789) | more than 9 years ago | (#11209488)

You know, it's not clear that movies will follow the same track as music.

* Record labels make money by selling albums over a relatively long period of time.
* You only need one or two good singles to sell an album.
* They push singles through the commercial, but not-for-pay radio [does MTV actually show music videos anymore?]
* Actual concert performances profit the band, not the record label
* They have *always* had to deal with the possibility of taping-off-radio and taping-off-CD

* Movies are much more expensive to make than albums. And probably riskier creatively.
* Movie studios make a bunch of money on live performances in movie theatres. They will hesitate to dissipate that by releasing simultaneously to consumer digital. (Although there are huge advantages to digital transmission to theaters.)
* They make a second chunk of money selling hard copy DVDs *once the first run revenue* is tapped out.
* Finally, once the DVD stream is largely tapped out, they'll make a chunk of money selling the TV broadcast rights.
* For now, the primary medium is heavy, bulky, film prints on reels, which are hard to pirate, except through sucky camcorder taping.

The whole rhythm of release and commercial structure is different for these two industries. Probably, they'll make the transition to digital quite differently.

Real alternatives? (4, Insightful)

jdreed1024 (443938) | more than 9 years ago | (#11209227)

Meanwhile, from what I can tell much more powerful alternatives to Microsoft's MCE bloatware are thriving: commercial products like Snapstream (see their 6-tuner Medusa PVR built for about $1200), Showshifter and open-source freeware like Mediaportal and MythTV.

First of all, MythTV and Mediaportal are not competitors. Not yet. For them to be true competitors, they need to just work out of the box. Don't get me wrong, they're great products, but they're not true competitors in the average consumer market, just like Gentoo Linux is not a competitor with Windows XP.

And the other two products mentioned are not real competitors. If you hate "Microsoft bloatware", these are not the products for you. From the Snapstream Beyond TV System Requirements [snapstream.com] page:

  • Microsoft Windows XP Home, XP Professional or 2000
  • DirectX 9.0 or greater

From the Showshifter System Requirements [showshifter.com] page:
  • Windows 98, ME, 2000 or XP
  • DirectX 9.0 Runtime or later
  • Windows Media Player 7.1 or later

It doesn't get much more Microsoft-centric than that.

If Media Center Edition fails, it will be because of price and competition from the cable companies, not because of competing software. Users who buy media center PCs will stick with Windows Media CEnter Edition, because that's what it'll come with. Just like people stick with XP Home, because that's what came on their computers.

Consumers want something that just works. Hobbyists, enthusiasts, and power users may be interested in picking their own TV tuner card, and setting up MythTV, but they do not form a large percentage of the market. You have people now who have Tivos because they "just work". Tivo made something that looks like a VCR and has a remote, and that (combined with cable and satellite companies giving them away for free) more than anything is what will kill windows MCE.

From what I've read about Microsoft MCE and all of its DRM and content restrictions, I have to agree with both of these articles.

The average consumer (again, they're the ones who influence the market, not us) doesn't care about DRM, yet. They can play their CDs in the car or on their stereo - it doesn't matter if they can't rip them to MP3.

However, ironically, MCE may be the thing that wakes up Joe Consumer to the dangers of DRM. If this doesn't, the broadcast flag of HDTV might. Currently, if Joe Consumer misses a show, he can stick a tape in the VCR. And even tape the game, despite the NFL telling him not to. When he fires up his Media Center PC, and hits record, and gets a message saying "You are not allowed to do this", there's going to be a huge backlash. But we're not there yet.

Re:Real alternatives? (4, Insightful)

WhiplashII (542766) | more than 9 years ago | (#11209396)

The real problem is that while it may work out of the box, within months it will fail.

We all have had to "repair" computers so infected with spyware that they are practically unusable. Now someone's PVR is going to do that! The only people that can use this long term are the technical people that can keep the thing working.

I just don't think people want a PVR that must be reinstalled every few months.

MythTV (2, Interesting)

mogrify (828588) | more than 9 years ago | (#11209230)

Approximately once every two weeks, I am nearly overcome by how cool MythTV looks, and I almost start putting a system together. Then I remember that I don't have cable, and I don't particularly want to spend MORE time watching TV than I already do. It would almost be worth it, though, to play with MythTV... Anyone want to donate $40/month or so?

Anyway, this is another example: MS does it, but Open Source does it better.

Re:MythTV (1)

mzwaterski (802371) | more than 9 years ago | (#11209338)

If you watch any television now, then having a PVR will help you watch less...at least fewer commercials that is.

Re:MythTV (1)

pinkocommie (696223) | more than 9 years ago | (#11209411)

I was looking for something simple to setup as a front end for stored video /audio/photos as well as watching TV, basically a pretty/simple interface. MythTV seems to do all this and would seem ideal. I have a suse 9.2 box but am a relative newbie to it. How hard is it to setup? Also sorry for being OT but after poking around for a bit I found KnoppMyth, presume this would need to overwrite suse to work? (debian based distro and all :)). Thanks for any input

Re:MythTV (1)

stratjakt (596332) | more than 9 years ago | (#11209448)

Cool so can I use my ATI HDTV-Wonder card with MythTV? And play back the high-def versions of my favorite movies on the extra DVD in the boxed set (they're in WMV9 format). And legally play DVDS?

Oh, well let me know when I can.

Until then, the closest linux will get being a media center is TiVo.

That's just the way it is. People don't piss away 10,000 on a high def plasma screen, 20,000 on a high end THX certified surround sound system (and that's cheap!) and then feed it with a 640i RCA video out jack from a 5 year old piece of shit video card - all because they're worried about paying 5 bucks to watch a movie.

Re:MythTV (1)

Anita Coney (648748) | more than 9 years ago | (#11209459)

I agree with the other poster, I built a PVR and I hardly watch TV at all nowadays. Here's an example, I used to be a die-hard Simpsons fan. I'd watch it EVERY Sunday whether or not it was a re-run.

After building my PVR I could do other things on Sunday night and I let my PVR record them. Soon those Simpson's episodes were building up because I was no longer watching them. When I *had* to watch them at a specific time, I'd make the time. But once I could watch them whenever, I wouldn't make the time.

After a while I simply deleted the files and I no longer even bother to record it. Now my PVR is mostly used to record kids shows or an occasional show for my wife, which she rarely watches.

The most I use my PVR for is to watch (American) football. I can pause the game and go do stuff, e.g., play with my kids, mow the lawn, etc, come back and start watching again, fast-forwarding through the commercials and BS. It's the only way I'll watch sports nowadays. You don't realize how much wasted time there is in sports until you can fast-forward through the crap.

Re:MythTV (1)

mogrify (828588) | more than 9 years ago | (#11209508)

Not having had any hands-on experience with MythTV whatsoever, I will certainly tell you what I know :)

I understand that the regular MythTV installation is pretty intense. KnoppMyth will probably be better but, yes, it will overwrite your current system. The frontend (i.e. the pretty pictures and widgets) will run off the CD on a minimal system, but the backend (the bit that does the heavy encoding/decoding) needs reasonably good hardware and has to be on a hard-drive based distro.

You should check on your hardware too; you need to make sure that you have a compatible TV capture card, among other things. If you're buying one, it looks like Hauppage 350's are pretty good for this.

That said, it looks like the documentation is good, and you should be able to get it running on your Suse box. And you can take advantage of another thing that OS does better than MS - support forums! :) Good luck

Hmm... (0, Flamebait)

bugbeak (711163) | more than 9 years ago | (#11209235)

Since Windows is so insecure and bloated now that IE is intergrated, how much more useable would MCE be?

Re:Hmm... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11209399)

I'm sure there's a connection between random IE hatewagon comments and MCE, I just don't see it.

uh.. (1)

2MuchC0ffeeMan (201987) | more than 9 years ago | (#11209241)

Biggest Flop of 2005: The Media Center PC
The product is supposed to bring the PC and TV together, but it's destined for the scrap heap of history. By Phillip Swann


Anyone else enjoying these advertising blocking mythtv boxes? I just finished mine a few days ago... What was that other successful program that blocks advertisements... oh wait, firefox!

he's fired.

This just in.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11209256)

..Microsoft hasnt turned a profit on sales in over 4 years.

No, really, they havnt. The only way they make money is via "creative accounting."

Everything they release, except for Office and their hardware (excluding xboxes), is a failure, at least on a financial level.

None ready for primetime (3, Informative)

hipsterdufus (42989) | more than 9 years ago | (#11209260)

Let's see:

MythTv is at version .16
MediaPortal is at version .0.1.0.3

Do you really want to run what is essentially an alpha product? I don't. These people also are happy with the fact that it sorta works, but not all the way. If you had a high end media room with a 100" screen and a projector, the image quality is not where it should be. It proably looks great on your 17" lcd or 4:3 ratio 27" television.

I'm not even sure what the snapstream product is. You can do everything it lists for the tv stuff with the software that comes with any pc tuner card.

MCE 2004 was a disaster. Horrible product, run away as fast as you can. MCE 2005 is loads better, though not perfect yet. Numerous companies offer a ready-to-go unit ala a DVD player. Just plug and go. The HP z545 and the Alienware DHS series are great machines that you can setup just fine to output to a HDTV projector and it looks great. You can also play Doom on them and surf the net. Nice integration.

Nobody YET offers a MCE with OTA or QAM HD support. You can add the card yourself (the ATI HDTV wonder is on the short list of cards supported by MCE) and you're good to go.

Until you can buy a pre-made box from a company with Myth loaded and ready to rock, I don't think you'll see myth in the living room. Microsoft got a computer in every home, now it wants one in every living room connected to the tv. If MCE 2005 is where they are going, they are headed in the right direction.

Re:None ready for primetime (1)

stratjakt (596332) | more than 9 years ago | (#11209361)

SnapStream is shit.

Or at least was shit, it's been about a year since I played with it.

It was buggy, crashed and froze constantly, had an incredibly bloated interface - I'd end up missing recording the first few minutes of whatever show I wanted because it took that long to render the "recording setup" dialog.

WRT to MythTV:

Can linux play back those special discs in newer DVD sets that have the movie in high def? Answer: No, like it or not, every one I've seen was in WMV9.

We had a story about it a few weeks ago. DRM hassles or no (the article blew it way out of proportion, claiming you need to install a special player - you dont), a true moviephile who's invested tens of thousands of dollars would accept no less than the best picture possible.

Linux NEEDS DRM. Without it, it won't even be a contender.

Re:None ready for primetime (2, Funny)

swv3752 (187722) | more than 9 years ago | (#11209380)

Well Freevo is at 1.5.2 if version numbers mean that much to you.

Fire and Ice (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11209286)

Some say the world will end in fire,
Some say in ice,
Wrong, biatch,
the world will end in fire

-Robert Frost

Windows MCE (2, Insightful)

cooterman (777948) | more than 9 years ago | (#11209298)

I have always seen Windows as a necessary evil. If I want an easy to use restuarant touch screen system for reasonable money I have to use Windows. I still use a Mac for back of the house and my co-located webserver is RedHat, but for for touchscreen ordering, Windows is something I always tolerated. But, I just finished building a Windows MCE 2005 system and I love it. MSFT for once is getting something right. If I had one complaint it would be stability. Nothing worse than having to Ctrl-Alt-Del in the middle of the big game, kill off some offending creature, and restart MCE. But, overall, they have done a lot right. I imported my whole iTunes library off my home Mac and it attached album art to all my old mp3s. The ovrlays, guides, wizards, etc. all work with minimal input. The biggest problem facing MCE adoption is cost. Unless you are a DIY guy, OEM systems start at nearly $2gs. And, an HDTV with 720p support is almost a necessity for maximizing your MCE PC's potential. 480p is passable, but anything less, including 1080i, is nauseating for anything but basics. However, nothing beats playing some Halo on your HDTV with a wireless mouse and keyboard on your 7.1 surround home theatre system. It almost worth it for that alone.

xbmc (3, Interesting)

tehsoul (844435) | more than 9 years ago | (#11209317)

also, let's not forget the relative big success of the opensource software xbox media center http://www.xboxmediacenter.de/ [xboxmediacenter.de]

PCs vs. PVRs (4, Interesting)

WidescreenFreak (830043) | more than 9 years ago | (#11209319)

Although the article focuses on Microsoft vs. everyone else, a lot of the responses seem to be talking about media PCs vs. PVRs. So, I'll address that point.

PCs and PVRs are just not comparable. Complete apples and oranges. You can't compare a Tivo or other PVR with a PC that's connected to a TV and the Internet. While it's nice that a PVR is meant specifically for its purpose and does it very well (even better if you know how to hack it), I can find many more advantages to having a PC connected to a TV instead.

First off, do you need more hard drive space? You buy a new secondary drive. You can't do that with PVRs unless you hack (in violation of contract if you rent the box) or buy/rent a newer one with a bigger hard drive.

If you don't want to watch TV, a wireless keyboard and mouse/trackball will allow you to surf on your TV. You can't do that with a PVR.

If the box is beefy enough, there is no reason why you can't use the PC as a gaming console. I'm sure that I'd have a lot more fun playing multiplayer "Ghost Recon" on my 55" widescreen TV than on my 21" monitor -- potential burn-in not withstanding.

There are other reasons, but I've made my point. Snd I'm sure that the vast majority of us on /. have a spare system laying around (or the majority of components to make one)that is more than capable of being a repectable system to act as a PVR.

Linux would have the same benefits, so I don't want to act as though only Windows can satisfy my requirements. But only us geeks would actually be comfortable using Linux for this purpose. The vast majority of people are unfortunately still brainwashed that Microsoft = Heaven, Bill Gates = God, and anything else != easy-to-use. So, properly positioned and marketed, XP MCE can be a highly effective alternative to PVRs to a huge amount of people.

That being said, I'm hearing a lot of good things about MythTV. I'm going to have to look into that. And I'll have a spare system shortly that's more than capable of handling the task. I'll pass on the PVR, thank you.

MCE 2005 does "Just Work" (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11209323)

I'll agree with the above post from earlier, I also use a hacked driver set with an unsupported TV card. This system rocks..

The only time I ever have a problem is one of my music video folders makes the system crash when it's building a preview image of the videos. One of them freaks the system out...Haven't pinned that down yet.

On the other hand, Media Portal is coming out really nice. It has wonderful potential....

Happy So far (1)

Procrastin8er (791570) | more than 9 years ago | (#11209330)

My father-in-law recently bought a new PC with XP MCE, and he has been very pleased.

Not being very technical, he has found it very easy to use. The integrated interface has allowed him to accomplish many tasks that he couldn't do before. Mostly because, pulling the many pieces togther and making them work together was over his head.

I am not a huge MS fan, but I've got to give them credit when it is due.

When Xbox 2 comes with MCE (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11209332)

I hope that the Xbox 2 comes loaded with MCE. That will truely bring the PC to the living room.

PC in the office, movies in the living room... (3, Informative)

jazzmanjac (92458) | more than 9 years ago | (#11209456)

Hauppauge's Media MVP [hauppauge.com] let's you watch recordings that reside on your PC on your TV. I've got one and I love it. No PC's in my living room....

Oh yeah... it runs linux.

Cable Company DVR + Remote (1)

Devi0s (759123) | more than 9 years ago | (#11209457)

My biggest reason for going the Comcast DVR route over the MythTV box was my understanding, or lack thereof, that a remote exists that could control MythTV + my TV.

Reason 2 was that the Cable company's DVR solution is so much cheaper, as pointed out by many.

Reason 3 is HDTV - I guess this is no longer a problem as HDTV tuner cards have recently been released, though I am unsure as to whether *nix drivers exist for them.

That said, I *still* want a MythTV box because it would be a lot of fun to build, and the idea of a content server in my house driving multiple MythTV boxes sounds cool, though insanely expensive.

Re:Cable Company DVR + Remote (1)

stratjakt (596332) | more than 9 years ago | (#11209513)

What you could to with MythTV, is spend the money on a remote that works - like ATI's remote wonder - then get a universal learning remote, and "teach" it the MythTV stuff.

With an external module, can MythTV control an external digital tuner box - the way a TiVo can? Has TiVo ever kicked any of that shit back into the OSS world?

Come to think of it, TiVo's remote is pretty cool, and does a good job of seamlessly controlling my TV, stereo, and TiVo at the same time. (On/off for TV, volume on stereo, channel changing recording controls on the TiVo)

what about replaytv (3, Insightful)

kevinx (790831) | more than 9 years ago | (#11209477)

I did the math and tried to come up with a good pc solution using myth tv. My requirements were a small case that would fit in my entertainment cabinet and semi old cheap hardware. The tv card winds up being the most expensive component $150 for a hardware mpeg encoder solution. To do it right, you are looking at about $400+ total system pricetag. That's using bottom basement pc components and top of the line pvr card. A replaytv unit costs $50 and a 12$/mo subscription or $250 lifetime. Which comes out cheaper then the mythtv unit. It provides many of the features you would see on a full blown media center type application since it networks with other replaytv units. You can run your pc as a replaytv unit and serve it shows, etc. All in all.. I found it to be the best deal; something that just works and the family can enjoy. There is fun factor to building the mytv unit..but if you are building it to be cost effective then you have to look beyond the alure of the free software.

Winner: RIAA MPAA (1)

katorga (623930) | more than 9 years ago | (#11209507)

I do not have a positive view of the future of "media centers". DRM and content restrictions will make them no fun, and legal pressure will impede the market.

Eventually, these items will become proprietary appliances. Loser? Both Media Center and the World.
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