Media Center versus the world

Over at ZDNet, I’ve just posted Part 1 in a three-part series comparing the leading digital media solutions for the living room. If you’re curious what you get with different DVRs, PC-based software like Beyond TV and Sage TV, and Windows Media Center, check out the feature table and the accompanying post.

5 thoughts on “Media Center versus the world

  1. Umm, my Tivo Series 2 has multiple tuners. Yeah, not all of the Series 2 models have multiple tuners, but the Dual Tuner model does.

  2. True. But that’s the brand-new model that just came out a few months ago. The overwhelming majority of Series 2 models in existence are single-tuner models. And the two tuners aren’t equally capable, as they are in all other models. The Series 2 DT can do one basic cable channel and one digital channel, but can’t handle two digital inputs.

    I’ve added a footnote to the chart.

  3. I’m a user of Snapstream’s BeyondTV. I love it and encourage you to give it a try. It’s a free trial to try out.

    By the way, why is there a circle icon (indicates the feature may be available but requires additional hardware or an unsupported hack) on mulit-room for BTV when they have BTV Link where you can use any pc to connect to the main BTV? Sage works the same way as BTV and it has no “circle icon”. I think this should be corrected or at least clarified. Thanks!

  4. Brent,

    Thanks for the comment. I’ve updated the chart with a note to make this clearer. Beyond TV Link allows me to watch a program from another computer. The multi-room category in my chart refers to support for non-PC devices such as the Series 2 TiVo, Xbox 360, MediaMVP, or Apple’s upcoming iTV, all of which connect to a TV in the living room or elsewhere and allow me to play back content stored on that PC.

  5. The only real drawback that I see with Vista’s Media Center Edition and integration with cable and satellite providers is that you will need to buy the system from an OEM. It seems that CableLabs, DirecTV and possibly other satellite and cable companies want to make sure that the box is “leak proof” and you can’t grab the content over to unapproved devices. This means that you can’t build your own, or you will need to heavily upgrade the OEM box.

    Extenders will be the way to go once we can directly pump our satellite, cable or IPTV feeds into a media center. Imagine having a box with lots of storage and multiple tuners locked in that dark closet in the basement, and then having an extender either wired or wirelessly (802.11a or better) at each TV so that all your content is in one place. A “media server” rather than a PC.

    IMHO, the problem will be that OEM’s will still see Media Center as PC’s rather than “media servers”. They will still sell them as PC’s and storage will be limited to 250-500 GB, non RAID drives. If you will be recording your HDTV, CD library, and pictures to one box, will even 1 TB be enough? How upset will you be if the drive dies and you don’t have RAID or a backup of all those CD’s, pictures, or five episodes of your spouse’s favorite show? iSCSI NAS would be cool, but will it be supported?

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