Media Center PCs: Worth it or not?

Discussion in 'Archived Threads 2001-2004' started by Brian Ruth, Jan 18, 2003.

  1. Brian Ruth

    Brian Ruth Supporting Actor

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    I just wanted the input of the people on here - are the media center PCs worth it?

    I'd especially like to hear from anyone that owns one.

    I hear that initially you can't write MPEG-2 video to DVD, but a company is supposedly releasing a third party program to fix this. If it works well, I'm strongly considering making one of them my next computer.

    EDIT: Has anyone looked at/picked up the Alienware Media Center PC? It's the front-runner for a HTPC, but I wish it had a few more features (integrated IR/Bluetooth/WiFi, AIW 9700) before I'd be comfortable biting.

    As a side-note, are there any other projects in the works that aim to deliver the same sort of experience as Media Center XP (namely, the attractive interface) without having to buy a whole new PC?
     
  2. Brian Ruth

    Brian Ruth Supporting Actor

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    BUMP! [​IMG]
    Come on.... surely somebody has something to say about these things.
     
  3. DanielN

    DanielN Stunt Coordinator

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    Build your own...you will save lots of money and have fun in the process.
     
  4. Tekara

    Tekara Supporting Actor

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    yeah I'll second the build your own PC, you can never beat the feature set that you pick out. no microsoft hasn't released microsoft media center XP, you can only get it with a new computer, or through less "legal" means. But that shouldn't be the reason you buy a pre-built computer that doesn't do what you want.
     
  5. TyC

    TyC Stunt Coordinator

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    Another vote for the custom-built PC:
    Media Center PC:
    • Works right out of the box
    Custom-Built HTPC:
    • Cheaper
    • Has all the features you want
    • And none you don't
     
  6. Brian Ruth

    Brian Ruth Supporting Actor

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    TyC:

    A couple of the features I'm looking for include the small case (7.4x7.88x11), a DVD recorder, and probably the ATI AIW 9700 card. I'm not sure I can get these if its a DIY job, and even if I could, I'm not sure I'd want to put one together.

    Also, I'm not extremely fond of the ATI bundleware I have now as far as TV recording and listings go. There's an unresolved problem which is preventing me from transferring my recordings to a useable format. ATI's stuff seems pretty much useless to me, and I'd MUCH rather have something else to use. The Media Center interface seems far more intuitive, which is part of the reason I was looking for one. If there's a piece of software that integrates everything with a comparatively elegant and TV-like display, I'd definitely consider getting it. As of now, I'm reluctantly stuck with ATI software that I don't really like.
     
  7. TyC

    TyC Stunt Coordinator

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    Brian Ruth:

    Get a friend to do it? If you are really that averse to putting together your own then the Media Center PC is for you.
     
  8. Brian Ruth

    Brian Ruth Supporting Actor

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    Quoth the TyC:


    That's unfortunate.... there should be an open source project that could put that together, I'm sure there's a LARGE market that could be tapped once it's made.

    I suppose I'll patiently wait until the Navigators have the features that I'd like.
     
  9. Sacha_C

    Sacha_C Second Unit

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    The ATI all in wonder does have a TV like display for TV, DVD, CD, video/music files and is very easy to use. I have the ATI all in wonder radeon 8500DV.
     
  10. Brian Ruth

    Brian Ruth Supporting Actor

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    Sacha:

    I have an All-In-Wonder card, but I don't particularly like the ATI interface. I was hoping to find something different that I could use to encode.
     
  11. Sacha_C

    Sacha_C Second Unit

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    You can use the program you want with ATI cards, and you can get different skins for the programs to chnage their interface if you dont like them.
     
  12. Camp

    Camp Cinematographer

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    Is there a website with screen shots of the ATI interface?
     
  13. Ted Lee

    Ted Lee Lead Actor

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    i suppose it depends on what you're trying to get out of it. convenience or performance.

    one of the recent issues of s&v (i think) did a review of the HP media center.

    the review was definitely lackluster. from a performance point-of-view the unit did poorly. i think the reviewer (david ranada?) said something like "it'll have to do much better than this".

    i think if you're going to go the pc route, you can build a rockin' unit yourself for much less. i just built mine (~1400.00) and i think it'll blow away any pre-built unit.
     
  14. Brian Ruth

    Brian Ruth Supporting Actor

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    Ted: I'm not too concerned about the performance. Alienware has always been good at gaming, and they don't skimp when it comes to the processor on the Navigators.

    I'd love to build one of these things myself, but first, I wouldn't be comfortable doing it, and second, there really isn't any standalone software capable of doing what the Media Center PC software does.

    For those 2 reasons (plus the good game performance), I'm considering getting an Alienware Navigator.
     
  15. Ted Lee

    Ted Lee Lead Actor

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    ahh..sorry. did you mention you were going with alienware? of all the "pre-built" units, those are one of the few that really stand-out. of course, they're pretty expensive...aren't they? i'm not familiar with that specific model, but i bet it'll definitely hold it's own.
    as far as building one goes, my current pc was the first one i ever did. it took me a while to do all the research. but once i got all my components, it probably took me most of a weekend - and that's only cuz' i was going so slow (since it was my first time).
    i bet i could build one in a day now...maybe even within several hours. so, buying one is fine, but i bet you can build a better one.
    in any case, good luck with your gear. remember to go out and get some sunlight once in a while. [​IMG]
     
  16. Brian Ruth

    Brian Ruth Supporting Actor

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    Ted: The Alienware computers are quite expensive, but I feel it would be worth it. I'm not yet comfortable yet with building my own computer, but its something I might try to do eventually. I just don't really want to fuss with all the installation and the possibility of being stranded without tech support. [​IMG]
     

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