Xbox 360, PGR3 & Media Center Extender

I got back from the US on Monday after a week over in Seattle for a work conference.  Had a great trip but winter in Seattle is pretty average. They broke their record for the most number of consecutive days of rain ... 30.  As i say ... pretty average really.

Anyway ... whilst over there is picked up an Xbox 360 from my mate Jezz.  He brought it over from Finland for me.  Why Finland you ask?  Well, for one they are also PAL (not NTSC like the states) which means i can buy games here NZ in when they come out in march and play them.  The second thing is that they are also on the same Voltage ... 240V (not 100V like the US).

The voltage was important to me for a couple of reasons.  The power supplies on the 360 are not switching i.e. they don’t do 110-240V, so you would need a step down transformer.  These are big and clunky.  There are some Xboxs that are from the US on trademe that come with a step down transformer.

Personally i think the way to go is to get one from Europe.  Jezz walked into the shop and the last one off the shelf ... but at least there was one on the shelf!  While in the US i stopped by Frys ... the biggest electronics store i have ever visited ... just huge on a US scale.  They had a big sign up saying "We don’t have any Xbox 360s, we have had 2 shipments and we don’t know when the next one will be. We don’t have a wait list. First come first served when they do come in".

I got PGR3 with it ... again ... very very very sexy stuff.

But what i was really waiting for was to try out the Media Center Extender.  I got this all set up in my lounge last night in about 10 mins.  It really is so basic.  Step1: kick setup off on the xbox, Step2: download and install the MCE PC add-on, Step3: Run through the PC Setup wizard ... done.

I was watching recorded & live TV via the 360 less than 10 mins later!  So the Xbox will be going with a second TV in the bedroom (sounds stupid but i want to watch satellite TV in there + recorded shows).

I only have 1 tuner card + sat box ... so there are some limitations on who can watch what channels.  Here are the 3 scenarios i tried out last night:

  • Xbox and TV watching same channel at the same time.

  • Xbox watching recorded show and TV watching live TV

  • Pausing the Playing live TV on Xbox

  • Playing music and photos on Xbox while TV watching live TV

I had limited time last night to play ... so will be doing some more tonight.

For someone who had made the leap into a Windows Media Center the Xbox 360 makes so much sense.  Leveraging that investment anywhere in the house with the addition of a 360 ... and you get to play GREAT console games as well.

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