media centers, hype or the new wave?


N

nightrider.36

Someone help me understand something. What I think is a new trend. I've
noticed these "media PCs" while thumbing through the pages of Computer
Shopper and and surfing around the net trying to figure it out. I
really don't see what the big deal is.

What exactly is a media PC and what does it do that my laptop can't do?

A friend of mine was asked to provide party music one evening. The
place where the party was had wifi and he accessed his Rhapsody
account. That and a sundry of other streaming radio websites and gigs
of music in case the net died -- no CDs. If someone brought one to the
party, he could rip it on the spot or just play it--no big deal. The
evening's entertainment endured without a hitch. His Macbook was
connected to an amp and speakers, it sounded amazing. He also had a TV
tunner (ATI usb tv) that he could use in case we wanted to play music
videos. All that on his laptop sitting humbly at the edge of the party.

Someone asked if that was a media PC. I responded, "All PCs are media
PCs--today". Am I wrong? His laptop was doing what a $800 laptop can
do--any laptop or computer running Windows XP, Linux and MacOS.

So what does a $3000 and up media system do that a decent laptop can't?
Hell, I could have run that party's entertainment from an iPod

http://www.voodoopc.com/default.aspx has a $3k entertainment system.
It's just an expensive in a case that looks good in your living room.

So is that all it is? are you just buying furniture? What am I missing?

thanks.

-ac
 
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P

Paul

nightrider.36 said:
Someone help me understand something. What I think is a new trend. I've
noticed these "media PCs" while thumbing through the pages of Computer
Shopper and and surfing around the net trying to figure it out. I
really don't see what the big deal is.

What exactly is a media PC and what does it do that my laptop can't do?

A friend of mine was asked to provide party music one evening. The
place where the party was had wifi and he accessed his Rhapsody
account. That and a sundry of other streaming radio websites and gigs
of music in case the net died -- no CDs. If someone brought one to the
party, he could rip it on the spot or just play it--no big deal. The
evening's entertainment endured without a hitch. His Macbook was
connected to an amp and speakers, it sounded amazing. He also had a TV
tunner (ATI usb tv) that he could use in case we wanted to play music
videos. All that on his laptop sitting humbly at the edge of the party.

Someone asked if that was a media PC. I responded, "All PCs are media
PCs--today". Am I wrong? His laptop was doing what a $800 laptop can
do--any laptop or computer running Windows XP, Linux and MacOS.

So what does a $3000 and up media system do that a decent laptop can't?
Hell, I could have run that party's entertainment from an iPod

http://www.voodoopc.com/default.aspx has a $3k entertainment system.
It's just an expensive in a case that looks good in your living room.

So is that all it is? are you just buying furniture? What am I missing?

thanks.

-ac

According to this, differentiators might be a remote control and a TV
tuner card. And a simplified user interface, making the device more
like a DVD player, TV set, or VCR. The idea is, you don't want to
think about the fact that it is a computer - it should just work :)
And we all know how often things "just work" on a computer.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Media_center
http://www.homeandoffice.hp.com/hho/cache/309641-0-0-225-121.html

Paul
 
R

Rod Speed

nightrider.36 said:
Someone help me understand something. What I think is a
new trend. I've noticed these "media PCs" while thumbing
through the pages of Computer Shopper and and surfing around
the net trying to figure it out. I really don't see what the big deal is.
What exactly is a media PC and what does it do that my laptop can't do?

They normally provide at least one channel for TV capture and
normal a remote that can be convenient when playing that stuff.
A friend of mine was asked to provide party music one evening. The
place where the party was had wifi and he accessed his Rhapsody
account. That and a sundry of other streaming radio websites and gigs
of music in case the net died -- no CDs. If someone brought one to the
party, he could rip it on the spot or just play it--no big deal. The
evening's entertainment endured without a hitch. His Macbook was
connected to an amp and speakers, it sounded amazing. He also had a
TV tunner (ATI usb tv) that he could use in case we wanted to play
music videos. All that on his laptop sitting humbly at the edge of the party.
Someone asked if that was a media PC. I responded,
"All PCs are media PCs--today". Am I wrong?

Yes, his is a media PC because it has a TV tuner.
His laptop was doing what a $800 laptop can do--any laptop
or computer running Windows XP, Linux and MacOS.

Yes, you can add a TV capture card or USB TV capture device
to a standard PC or laptop and it then becomes a media PC.
So what does a $3000 and up media system do that a decent laptop can't?

Capture TV.
Hell, I could have run that party's entertainment from an iPod

Sure, but most of those cant capture TV too.
http://www.voodoopc.com/default.aspx has a $3k entertainment system.
It's just an expensive in a case that looks good in your living room.

Its that as well.
So is that all it is?
Nope.

are you just buying furniture?
Nope.

What am I missing?

The TV capture.

I've replaced my VCRs with 4 channels of digital TV capture
cards. I use it to capture the TV, play the recorded stuff, and
do some other stuff like use DVD+RW for data overflow.
Media PCs use hard drive space like there is no tomorrow,
2-3GB/channel/hour for TV and that isnt even HDTV.
 
N

nightrider.36

I've replaced my VCRs with 4 channels of digital TV capture
cards. I use it to capture the TV, play the recorded stuff, and
do some other stuff like use DVD+RW for data overflow.
Media PCs use hard drive space like there is no tomorrow,
2-3GB/channel/hour for TV and that isnt even HDTV.

So all I need is a mongo (huge) hard drive(s) and an ATI USB TV tuner
and my $900 laptop and I got a media PC?

What's DVD+RW data overflow?

And how do you set up to capture four channels? Is that the capture
card's software? or have installed four cards?

I'm simply trying to simplify a setup for myself using the equipment I
have. It just seems like I'm almost there and it's still not
approaching $3k.
 
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R

Rod Speed

So all I need is a mongo (huge) hard drive(s) and an ATI
USB TV tuner and my $900 laptop and I got a media PC?

Yep. More strictly a media center PC.
What's DVD+RW data overflow?

Basically because of the size of the capture files, it isnt hard to
run out of hard drive space. So I write stuff that I havent gotten
around to watching to DVD+RWs to make more space for the
evening's recording. I can need 50G for some evenings.
And how do you set up to capture four channels?
Is that the capture card's software?

No, I dont use what came with the cards, I use WebSheduler instead.
or have installed four cards?

Yes. Tho you can get dual channel cards now, so
if I was doing it today, I'd get a pair of those instead.

With a laptop its better to use the USB capture devices.
I'm simply trying to simplify a setup for myself using the equipment I have.
It just seems like I'm almost there and it's still not approaching $3k.

Yeah, you can save quite a bit assembling it yourself. And
you get a lot more flexibility too, like 4 channels in my case.
 

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