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Microsoft Media Center 2005 Reviewed 145

Posted by timothy
from the my-tivo-cost-200-bucks dept.
Thomas Hawk writes "Microsoft is set to release their new Media Center 2005 by none other than Bill Gates himself in Los Angeles tomorrow. In advance of this announcement, the New York Times (registration required) is running an article on the new product today. The article says that the quality of the MCE television has generally been received as inferior to rival and competitor TiVo. I wrote a review on the new MCE 2005 last week called MCE 2005, Underwhelmed. I'm offering continuing media coverage of MCE 2005."
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Microsoft Media Center 2005 Reviewed

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday October 11, 2004 @03:52PM (#10497011)
    due to Microsoft policy [theregister.com], any TV programs you record will be destroyed automatically after 30 days, unless they receive a notice from their legal department...
    • by Geartest.com (582779) on Monday October 11, 2004 @08:06PM (#10499236) Homepage

      Thomas, I found this excerpt quite interesting (emphasis added):

      I wrote a review on the new MCE 2005 last week called MCE 2005, Underwhelmed.

      How was it that you were able to get advance access to the software and avoid violating confidentiality agreements that you must have signed?

      We were at a Microsoft media briefing a couple of weeks ago and were required to sign NDAs specific to the Media Center Edition 2005. The information was embargoed until the October 12 official launch of Windows Media Center Edition 2005. The NDAs applied to everyone, including major media with millions of readers/listeners/viewers.

      In the case of the New York Times, and a few selected media outlets, I'm sure that they got special access. Either that or the NYT is violating an NDA as well, which I think is improbable.

      So how has Thomas Hawk managed to get the software and write about it so far in advance without violating an NDA or otherwise going up against the Microsoft legal department?

      Or is your "review" like a lot of game "reviews" where you haven't even seen or used the software, and rely on third-party accounts as the basis of your "review"?

  • by Doesn't_Comment_Code (692510) on Monday October 11, 2004 @03:53PM (#10497018)
    The article says that the quality of the MCE television has generally been received as inferior to rival and competitor TiVo.

    Microsoft salesman: ...But wait! Have you seen all the new DRM features?
    • Re:More Features (Score:5, Informative)

      by erick99 (743982) <homerun@gmail.com> on Monday October 11, 2004 @04:15PM (#10497168)
      Here are some of the more relevant paragraphs from the NYT (relevant to the argument that Media Center PC is not as good as Tivo) story for those who don't want to have to register at their site:

      So far, the record of Media Center PC's is mixed. Since they were introduced in 2002, computers using the first two versions of this software have been slow sellers. IDC, which had forecast sales of 1.5 million of them this year, now sees sales at 550,000 units for all of 2004.

      Roger Kay, a vice president of IDC, says sales of Media Center PC's have lagged because they are buggy, too hard to use, and often too noisy to put in a living room. And even among the small group of users, they haven't developed the fanatical following of TiVo, the stand-alone video recorder.

      "I haven't been in some placid home where the people who use Media Center PC's think it is great and a part of their life," Mr. Kay said.

      Stephen Baker, the director of industry analysis at the NPD Group, a research firm, is skeptical even of the existing sales of Media Center PC's. "A lot of their sales have been accidental," he said. "Someone wants to buy the best PC out there, and this is the one with all the bells and whistles"

      The media extender device may give Microsoft its desired beachhead in the living room. But those devices are emerging technology and have an initial price tag of about $250. A recorder from TiVo, by contrast, can be bought for less than $100 after rebates, although it has a fee of $12.95 a month, which the Windows system does not.

      • Re:More Features (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Dr Reducto (665121)
        Actually, I know a girl whose parents bought her a nice computer for college. I was in her room, and saw the Media Center Sticker on her computer and asked her if she liked it. She had no idea what I was talking about. I still havent convinced her to set it up and use it as a TiVo.
      • Re:More Features (Score:5, Interesting)

        by garcia (6573) * on Monday October 11, 2004 @04:28PM (#10497272) Homepage
        A recorder from TiVo, by contrast, can be bought for less than $100 after rebates, although it has a fee of $12.95 a month, which the Windows system does not.

        This is EXACTLY why I went with a Tivo. Price. $50 after rebate and it's noiseless. I don't think about it and I don't worry that it will crash.

        I was seriously thinking about buying a machine to do MythTV which was my first choice but I always found myself put off by the time/money investment only to have yet another machine running in the house sucking electricity (I am VERY interested in seeing a power consumption comparison between a low-end MythTV machine, Tivo, and Microsoft solution).

        Anyway. Building and running a mythTV box, while well within my ability, was just too much of a hassle compared to clicking on CircuitShitty and picking it up at the desk 20 minutes later.

        YMMV.
        • Re:More Features (Score:3, Insightful)

          The superior solution years from now will the the solution with no subscription plan.

          Someone in slashdot pointed out from previous articles that Snapstream could use XML TV to get data from Zap2it. I have tried it, and I ran into every firewall brick wall you can imagine.

          Granted I can still schedule shows via Snapstream to record by punching in 9:00 for example. It's just not the same having that TV guide menu like the paid Tivo service.

          • I don't see any technical reason why all your TV listings should have to come from the same place. Why don't individual channels put up listings for their own channels on their websites, in XML format, for free? They have more of an incentive - they want people to watch their shows. Preferably live, but still...
          • For the UK, XMLtv has an agreement with the BBCs RadioTimes to provide 14 day listings in a machine readable format, so no messy screen scraping and its coming right from the top. The listings are free and completely accurate, but copyrighted , which is fair enough and something I can live with.
    • by Alaren (682568) on Monday October 11, 2004 @04:16PM (#10497173)

      Judging by the increasing gap between what corporations want with DRM and what end-users want to do with their media, I envision something like this:

      Bill Gates opens up the curtain to reveal an enormous display. He introduces the new version and says he would like to begin with a demonstration of his favorite feature.

      The screen powers up and... it's completely blank.

      "The wave of the future," says Bill. "Our new DRM is completely unbreakable. Through careful research we have determined that the most common format of music on an iPod is 'stolen.' [slashdot.org] Through extrapolation, this proves that the most common format of all digital media, including movies, is stolen."

      "Ladies and gentlemen of corporate America, I give you: BlankScreen (TM). The new DRM assumes that all users are thieves and simply refuses to do anything at all. No one will ever steal your IP again."

      Corporations will buy into this new DRM heavily. Then they will act confused when Apple releases a light-on-DRM media machine that manages to do well for some unfathomable reason.

    • Whats new-- Microsoft's entire success is due solely to protectionist schemes-- any time they are forced to compete on a level playing field by design merit they fail miserably. Expect them to buy TiVo out, try to make some special deal with some big content company or instill one of their patents, in order to make their product "better" by locking the competition out-- it's just their way...

      • by 4of12 (97621)

        Microsoft's entire success is due solely to protectionist schemes

        Those schemes are self protection of Microsoft's own business.

        Protecting customers and competitorsM-D partners is a different matter.

        I don't see the Media PC booming into a brisk holiday sales season; the TiVo has much stronger word-of-mouth advertising.

        Where the TiVo falters, IMHO, is in providing friendly HDTV recording capabilities.

        • I think EVERYONE is failing in providing friendly HDTV recording capability... considering said capability only hit the market last spring...

          I'd rather Tivo take their time and Do-It-Right than fuck it up royally (like some to-be-unnamed vendors). IIRC, an HD-Tivo is still unavailable...

          • The HDTV Tivo is available in limited quantities. Can record 20 hours of HD content or 200 hours of regular quality. Best Buy is selling it for about $1000.
        • Where the TiVo falters, IMHO, is in providing friendly HDTV recording capabilities.

          How so? My HR10-250 HD TiVo is no less friendly than the standard DirecTiVo that I'd used for a couple of years. The sole knock on it is the price, but it's certainly the best HD recorder out of a couple that I've used.

    • Salesman Continued: After MCE Television crushes TiVo into oblivion, you'll want to purchase the Janus-driven iPod Killer! It will be faster! Stronger! It will have features which every jogger, car-driver, and bicyclist needs... A MOVIE PLAYER! It will also make coffee, brown your toast, and prevent unwanted pregnancies!
  • by damiam (409504) on Monday October 11, 2004 @03:59PM (#10497053)
    Microsoft is set to release their new Media Center 2005 by none other than Bill Gates himself

    So Gates himself wrote Media Center single-handedly?

    • Considering it's just Windows XP with a few knobs on, I'm sure Gates could have coded it over a few evenings. One-handedly. Whilst jacking off over pictures of Satan.
      • Whilst jacking off over pictures of Satan.
        I must interject here. Since Bill Gates is Satan I doubt he would be jacking off over pictures of himself. Perhaps over pictures of Satan's whores, Satan's schoolgirls or Satans's angels. Perhaps?

        This has been a message from the committtee to free Satan and his minions.
    • So Gates himself wrote Media Center single-handedly?

      Well it *should* run on less than 640K of RAM then....
  • Maybe he will get a blue screen of death when he powers it up, much like he did with Windows 98. Sorry MS but you won't get to monopolize the TIVO industry
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday October 11, 2004 @04:10PM (#10497131)
    Lets see:

    Tivo --- Cheap, works, easy to use, easy to setup.
    MythTV --- Cheap, works, easy to use, difficult to setup.
    MCE --- Expensive, works, easy to use, modertly difficult to setup.

    Hmm...

    So MS is saying that I can spend a thousand dollars on a PC, pay them around 150 dollars for the software, subject myself to DRM, and then risk getting my Television infected with spyware, viruses, and worms?

    WERE CAN I SIGN UP?!!!!!
    • Tivo --- Cheap, works, easy to use, easy to setup.
      MythTV --- Cheap, works, easy to use, difficult to setup.
      MCE --- Expensive, works, easy to use, modertly difficult to setup.

      The only problem with your otherwise insightful analysis is that the MCE "works" only for a rather limited definition of "working" compared to the functionality of the other products on the market. It does less and costs more, and Microsoft's principal argument for you to purchase one seems to be, "Hey, we're Microsoft. You may be

    • I don't think MythTV can be described as cheap. A VIA based MythTV box, using a Hauppauge 250 in an aesthetically acceptable case will set you back about $600. That's more than enough to pay for Tivo.

      Of course, this is because certain component manufacturers are suffering from low demand, or are milking the market (you choose). For instance a case is $100 but you can buy a complete DVD player (including power supply) for less than that - and it will look better. Just throw out the inside and plug the V
      • by AuMatar (183847)
        OF course, MythTV doesn't have a monthly fee- add in 3 years at 12 per month or so for a decent length of use comparison. And don't forget that MythTV allows customization and add ons (MythGame, MythMusic, MythPhone, add in a larger HD anytime, throw on an ftp server to access your files at a friends house, etc). Plus it can be used as a normal PC when not recording. While it may be more, you also get a lot more functionality for it.
        • Oh sure, MythTV has a lot going for it. And it is very easy to accidentially include addons like a big HDD or a DVD writer in the cost when comparing to a TiVo, which is hardly an accurate comparison.

          But TiVo is available as a lifetime subscription for less than the cost of a mythtv box.
      • I don't think MythTV can be described as cheap. A VIA based MythTV box, using a Hauppauge 250 in an aesthetically acceptable case will set you back about $600. That's more than enough to pay for Tivo.

        Yeah, well you're doing it all wrong. Try an xbox frontend, softmodded, with a Celeron 333MHz backend and a cheap-as-dirt DVB-T card. You can build that whole setup for under $300. Even less if you have a spare Celeron lying around (like probably 90% of /.ers).

        And as an improvement over Tivo, you also g

    • "modertly difficult to setup"

      I found the media center PC very easy to set up. It is no more difficult to set up than any new PC. Yes, there are glitches...and the DRM is a pain in the ass...but to simply record and watch TV, it is very simple to use and to set up.
  • Call me picky, but I find even the quietest hard drives (Seagate Barracuda line is the quietest I've found) are unacceptably loud when used in a media PC in my living room. That constant humming is a big annoyance. Add to that, unless the case is an ITX format or smaller, I find a media PC unacceptably large for my living room as well. I've experimented with various harddrive-less media players/recorders but haven't found one that I liked enough to even mention by name here.
    • I dunno... I got an old Gateway 386 case that strangely enough holds an ATX board and ATX power supply. It goes right where the VCR used to on the shelves. No sound difference, no real loss of room
    • That constant humming would be the cooling fans...HD s don't exactly hum, they click. I've found that lots of modern hard drives are no more noisy than the noise of an optical drive in a DVD player or the spindles in a VCR.
    • Call me picky, but I find even the quietest hard drives (Seagate Barracuda line is the quietest I've found) are unacceptably loud when used in a media PC in my living room.

      Have you tried a 2.5" laptop drive instead? They're slower and more expensive, but my PVR uses one of these and it is very quiet indeed -- often I only notice it on spin-up and spin-down. Not sure what it would sound like in a Media PC enclosure but may be worth a try.

      I have the 60GB version in the Fujitsu range:
      http://www.fujitsu.com [fujitsu.com]

    • by bogie (31020)
      Are you watching silent movies or something? I use Seagates and when watching tv at even a low volume I can't hear my PC at all. For movies, ie why you want a HTPC in the first place I can't hear anything but my 5.1 system.
      • Re:Noisy??? (Score:2, Informative)

        by jimmyfergus (726978)
        Well, your HTPC has to be on full time to record, so it has to be quiet enough when there are no other sources of noise.

        However, I'm very picky about noise, and I've been able to silence drives very successfully. Get a modern quiet one, turn on acoustic management, and soft-mount it. Either suspend it with bungees [silentpcreview.com], rest it on sorbothane foam, or at least use rubber grommets in the drive cage. There are all sorts of discussions about this on www.silentpcreview.com.

        I'm amazed by how much bungee-suspens

    • Any dvd player i have seen makes more noise spinning the disc as any of the silent hds (samsung or seagate .7 series).
      Obviously you will tell me that my ears dont work, that you can hear better or blah. I dont care. just dont spread fud.
    • by Fnkmaster (89084) on Monday October 11, 2004 @05:43PM (#10497999)
      The noise you hear from a PC is at least 80% from the CPU fan, power supply fan and case fan. A fanless PC is extremely quiet - hard drives do make noise, but it's quiet enough that you're not terribly likely to hear a proper, low noise harddrive in a living room unless you put your ear up right next to the box it's in.


      But yes, in general, these things would be much better if they used lower power CPUs with heatpipes and fanless power supplies. In fact, more PCs in general should be designed this way as I can't stand the humming of fan noise anymore (guess I'm just getting older).

      • It also depends upon how you mountain. Tivos have little rubber grommets in the screw holes to prevent the transmission of vibrations from the drive to the chassis and case. However, this wasn't enough with the original Quantum drive in my Tivo Series 1. Fortunately it died and I replaced it with a Seagate which I can now only hear up close. The fan in the Tivo is very quiet.
    • Epia board in an e-otonashi case. Net boot. No moving parts. NONE. No noise. I have a laptop HD in mine[1] and it's 99.9% quiet, but netbooting would make it 100%.
      http://www.viavpsd.com/product/epia_MII_spe c.jsp?m otherboardId=202
      http://www.scythe-usa.com/cooler /epia.htm

      [1] I have and old POS USB TV tuner that needs Windows 2000. It works well with the "sub" sound on Japanese TV so I keep it around.
  • Useful link (Score:2, Funny)

    by xNoLaNx (653172)
    http://www.google.com/search?q=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.ny times.com%2F2004%2F10%2F11%2Ftechnology%2F11micros oft.html%3Foref%3Dlogin%26pagewanted%3D1%26oref%3D login&start=0&start=0&ie=utf-8&oe=utf-8&client=moz illa&rls=org.mozilla:en-US:unofficial
  • by StateOfTheUnion (762194) on Monday October 11, 2004 @04:19PM (#10497202) Homepage
    From the NY times article Regardless of how they get Media Center computers, Mr. Brooks said people like them when they get them home. Microsoft's surveys, he said, found that more than 90 percent of the owners of the Media Center computers are satisfied with them, far more than the percentage of basic PC owners. Eight out of nine, he said, would recommend the product to a friend.

    That doesn't surprise me but I think that the figure is intrinsically misleading . . . at only 3% of the market, these media PC's are probably primarily bought by the diehard enthusiast types. These are exactly the same group that would be most likely to be very satisfied with the product. The average Joe that is much more fickle and impatient currently wouldn't even consider buying one of these for his/her living room . . . at least not until they become much more mainstream . . .

    • Cognitive Dissonance (Score:4, Interesting)

      by Alaren (682568) on Monday October 11, 2004 @05:01PM (#10497624)

      Agreed.

      To that I might add, the principle of post-decisional cognitive dissonance [wikipedia.org] will almost always increase reported customer satisfaction when more money has been spent on something in order to (theoretically) add value.

      On the other hand, even assuming the numbers are a reasonably accurate account and Media Center computers are generally well-liked by their users, I have to wonder how these numbers compare to the numbers that would turn up if the same questions were asked about, say, TiVo. Or outside the genre, about iPods. Is 8/9 really that big a deal?

      And finally, I'd take any marketing-associated stats (particularly those associated with Microsoft) with a grain of salt. Just last week Halo 2 was touted as having "highest presale in the history of videogames," [slashdot.org] which was patently false (as noted in several of the /. comments).

      Regardless of what you find to be the best explanation, it should be clear that these numbers don't mean what Microsoft wishes they meant.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday October 11, 2004 @04:24PM (#10497232)
    . . . Windows XP Media Center Edition is pretty cool. My roommate purchased an HP computer for college that came with MCE, though he didn't even try to set it up last year, this year he's gotten it working.

    We've used it, so far, to record South Park episodes and Comedy Central's Secret Stash. There's nothing better than going off to Intro to Philosophy class after just having heard a 5-minute unbleeped tirade from an angry black man. We've now got it set to record every show of several series, and it's really nice to be able to start playing a show at a moments notice.

    I'm kind of jealous that he's got it, actually. I'd like to turn my spare computer into a Linux box, but I'd also like to record shows on it, if such thing were possible. I have no idea if any equivalent to MCE exists on Linux.
  • by rsilvergun (571051) on Monday October 11, 2004 @04:29PM (#10497277)
    As I understand it, MCE is just pro with added junk. If it retails for the Same as Home, could be a nice, cheap way to upgrade to Pro.
    • Since MCE is only available preloaded on PCs, and those PCs must have TV tuner cards and remotes, it's hard to imagine than an MCE PC would be cheaper than a regular PC with XP Pro.
    • No It Can't (Score:2, Informative)

      by corren (559473)
      Unless you upgrade from MC 2004 to 2005 (and have previously joined a domain) you can not join a domain with MC 2005.

      This is because MC 2005 is cheaper than XP Pro, and MSFT doesn't want corporations abandoning XP Pro sales.
    • As I understand it, MCE is just pro with added junk. If it retails for the Same as Home, could be a nice, cheap way to upgrade to Pro.

      The OEM version Windows XP Media Center Edition 2005 is $129.99 at Directron.com [yahoo.com]. At the same store, OEM XP Home is $84.50 [yahoo.com] and OEM XP Pro is $135.00 [yahoo.com]. I'm assuming you know that Windows XP MCE 2005 is only available in OEM form, and not in boxed retail versions (full and upgrade) like Home and Pro are.

      From the reviews I've read, it does seem like MCE uses XP Pro as its b

    • Sorry to disappoint you, but Microsoft removed exactly that feature from MCE. That was to be expected, of course. :(

      The only reason why MCE is based on XP Professional (instead of Home) is because of the Remote Desktop support, which will be required for the extenders to work. At least that's what I've understood about it.
  • Bad review (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward
    " Although the product allegedly will support the ATI HDTV Wonder card it is my understanding that this card only supports OTA (over the air) HDTV broadcasts. WTF?" - From the submitter review

    What an uninformed statement. This the fault of cable and sat companies. The htpc communities have screamed their heads off about for awhile now but with the new broadcast flags, I believe we will see the death of HDTV recording (on pc, too easy to share) all together. Unless there is a solid shared standard (with agr
    • how an average of 40MB/sec is too slow is a mystery to me....
    • Re:Bad review (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward
      Actually, the PCI bus is not too slow, when you use a card like a hardware encoder board. You would have more than enough bandwidth to spare. An HDTV signal is around 10-20 Mbps, which is what an equivalent stream would be coming off of an encoder board which is streaming at about the same quality.

      Also, a PC's processor would not be able to handle a raw 1080i stream anyway. At least one of today's processors.

      Just my $0.02
  • This a great blog about Microsoft Media Center 2005

    http://thomashawk.com/2004/10/microsoft-media-cent er-2005.html

  • I'm unimpressed (Score:5, Insightful)

    by El (94934) on Monday October 11, 2004 @04:35PM (#10497345)
    I've got a very expensive Sony Media Center PC. The program guide and remote control are nice, but the thing takes forever to switch channels, and video quality is poor (it appears to be dropping frames like crazy when receive standard broadcast TV with a lot of movement). Sure, I can pause live TV, but what good is that when it looks like crap? Of course, it is difficult to say how much of this is the fault of the software, and how much is because of the hardware -- but killing every other process running seems to help.
    • by Anonymous Coward
      "but killing every other process running seems to help."

      You are killing the wrong process try kill rundll.....etc works even better then try a freebsd boot cd. At root just type in (dd if=dev urandom of=dev ad0) these actions will speed up your sony.

  • by dwipal (709116) * on Monday October 11, 2004 @04:43PM (#10497434) Homepage
    I use XBOX Media Center (http://www.xboxmediacenter.com) since a month now, and it is WAYYY better than whatever MS will be offering, the main advantage being u dont get stuck with M$ software. My XBMC works with the iBook and a Windows XP desktop that is kinfof like my "Media Server" lying somewhere in the bedroom.

    Its all connected to the network wirelessly, and works exceptionally well. U can manage the songs using iTunes and play those on ur home theater connected through XBMC. There are also Optical Audio and Component Out kits available for the XBOX and it works really well. It has the mplayer media player which has all the nasty codecs which can play just about anything.
    Also, xbox dosent make the noise that a regular PC will make. It now also supports 1080i DVD playback with DTS audio which is just what I need.

    M$ has a media center extender for their xbox, but it only works with their shitty Media center PCs which is wayyy overpriced and too "closed".

    As far as my XBOX can do everything i ever want (of course, except the HD-Tivo functions, which i would like leaving to Tivo), spending 150$ for the XBOX just makes too much sense. I would always prefer to have all the media stored on some PC but remotely accessible from a small non-noisy set-top box connected to the TV (like the XBOX).
    • I agree, but maybe not a million times :)

      It's great for playing movies, music, and showing the family the vacation pictures on the big screen. However, as you eluded to, the XBMC can not record tv shows or any "outside" video feed. That being said, I own 4 xboxes all equipped with XBMC for the majority of my multimedia enjoyment.

    • Also, xbox dosent make the noise that a regular PC will make

      Obviously, you and I have been listening to different desktop PCs and XBoxes... I'd go for an X-box for this purpose in an instant, if every one I've heard wasn't so noisy. Silence is in the ear of the beholder. They're also harder to silence. Small quiet fans just don't exist, and the Xbox has a small fan (50, 60mm or something?).

      • by Anonymous Coward
        Obviously, you and I have been listening to different desktop PCs and XBoxes... I'd go for an X-box for this purpose in an instant, if every one I've heard wasn't so noisy. Silence is in the ear of the beholder. They're also harder to silence. Small quiet fans just don't exist, and the Xbox has a small fan (50, 60mm or something?).

        Oddly enough, I have two xboxes here that have extremely different fan volumes. One of them is far newer than the other, and came for free with our new van.

        The old one makes su
    • My god you sound like my son.

      "U wayyyyy need XBMC, dood! It rox!"
    • "It now also supports 1080i DVD playback"

      That's funny: DVDs themselves only support 480p at best.
  • ...it's an excellent way to identify B-Arkers.
  • heh (Score:3, Funny)

    by NeoGeo64 (672698) on Monday October 11, 2004 @05:07PM (#10497675)
    I've always wanted to see hi-def goatsee and tubgirl. ;)
  • by j_d (26865)
    rivals and competitors?
  • XP MCE has always looked to me like MythTV for people who are too rich and/or lazy to geek Linux or TiVo for Paul Thurrott or the Microsoft-zealot balding IT man at your school or workplace. A good thing to have, but with TiVo To Go around the corner to handle the DVD burning thing, is there any real advantage over TiVo? If you are using it like a TV (sitting at a distance) you won't be too comfortable using Word, particularly if you are using a standard-def or any small TV as your monitor, and there's no
  • Releasing this may be a sign that Microsoft is moving more into the field of consumer electronics, and may be paying less attention to trying to release "serious" computer software.

    Last time I checked, we are still 18 months away from the release of the next Microsoft operating system, and Microsoft still has not answered any of the serious questions about security or stability.

    However, Microsoft is very good at one thing: designing things that are simple and attractive for consumers to use. If they can't
  • I think there is a category error here. ReplayTV [leavensfamily.com] or Tivo are not direct competitors to MCE - different setup, different price points. People buy something like a ReplayTV [planetreplay.com] precisely because they want to deal with as little PC-like cruft as possible. Which, of course, MCE offers in droves. MCE still requires too much sit-up effort rather than a more comfortable TV-like sit-back groove. It's possible it may always be burdened by this because of its full-scale Windows nature.

    Surely the closest competitor to MC
  • by Anonymous Coward
    So I have a first-generation Tivo, and have been considering an upgrade to something else so I can play MP3s from my home theatre, since the first-generation boxes can't connect to a WiFi network.

    Right now my decision is between a Tivo Series 2 and an MCE 2005 box. After thinking it over, I have to say it doesn't seem to make sense to invest extra money in a MCE system. If I want to record shows, for example, that means I have to leave my PC on 24/7, or try and remember to keep in on while the shows I wa
    • What happens if I go on vacation for a couple weeks? I'm just supposed to keep my PC on that whole time?

      There is a script for mythtv, which utilizes the startup function of the BIOS (this feature is quite common today). After a show was recorded it looks up the next scheduled recording and tells the bios to start the computer shortly before it's supposed to record. After this has been written into the BIOS the computer shuts down. Unfortunately I can't remember how this script was called.

      Shouldn't be too

  • and I bought an OEM copy of MC 2005 through work on thursday. It's the only legitimate MS OS I've ever owned. And I'm absolutely gutted that they spent about as much time optimising the My Music feature as Bill spends mailing love letters to liberals. My TV's faster though.
  • Crash-o-matic (Score:3, Interesting)

    by pair-a-noyd (594371) on Monday October 11, 2004 @07:07PM (#10498793)
    I just spent a few days in Houston Memorial Herman Hospital where they have a sort of interesting setup.
    The old TV's are gone, they have flat screens on a boom that you can pull down to your face and watch TV on, surf the net, etc..
    My complaint with it was that it's credit card driven, you get about 10 channels for free but they are all bullcrap channels, women's talk shows, soaps, "The Aquarium Channel" and other useless nonsense.
    If you want to watch anything else you have to swipe your credit card in a slot on the side to activate the half way decent channels or get on the net. The proxy is heavily censored/nannied and you can't do much more than go to disney.com and other 4 year old level crap. Any site with naughty words are off limits.

    Not having a credit card, I was screwed until they caused me some extreme pain, I filed a complaint and they kissed my ass for the rest of my stay which included turning on all the channels.. (not worth the pain though!)

    Anyway, the thing was crashing every few hours, it would boot up with a Windows 2000 start up screen then go through a very lengthy new hardware detection process, rebooting numerous times as it tried to detect and install all the goodies. It is a touch screen and the picture was a little better than poor and just under acceptable. You can go back and forth between the net and TV by touching the screen. Typing on it and filling in forms was a pain. There was a power, coax and an ethernet cable from the wall into the boom. I would be willing to bet that this device is insanely expensive. Considering though that they charged me about $100,000 for everything, I would think they may have put a dent in the bill for this system.

    At first glance, it looked neat. After serious scrutiny, it's buggy and low quality. But most people laying in bed, in pain could care less.

    Here's a link to a story all about the system.
    http://abclocal.go.com/ktrk/technology/020104_tech _hostech.html [go.com]
    • Our local hospital has a similar setup to this and everything worked great.

      There was no credit card option. You just fed some coins into a machine down the hall in return for a pre-paid card. This was great because visitors could bring pre-paid card instead of useless grapes.

      It was a differt box to the one in your picture. It didn't crash once in the 8 days we were there.
  • There's been a lot of jokes/comments about BSOD with Windows Media Center and as much as I love my TiVo I did want to balance the negative comments. I'm unhappy to report that my TiVo does crash about once a week. Typically it occurs when it attempts to change channel to start recording. The crash requires a full reboot - which means yanking the power cable since there is no power button on the TiVo. A reboot takes about 7 minutes. Is any one else experiencing problems or do I have a bad box? I never had
    • I've never had this happen with mine and I've had it for about five years now. I don't have the home media option because I have a DirecTIVO.
    • Sounds like a problem with the hardware or drivers. Can you roll it back? Series 1 Tivos store the software on two partitions, one of which is a backup with the previous version of the software. Rolling back just involves changing which partition it mounts! I'm assuming that you've checked for more up to date software, although that will blow away your working backup for sure.

      I have a Series 1 Tivo (Sony) from 2000. No problems. I've hacked it to make it work here in Canada and added an ethernet card
  • It is one of the most poorly written, colloquial things purporting to be "articles" or "reviews" I have ever seen linked from Slashdot.

    Sorry, but it is so biased and slangy it is hard to get into.

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