Cool new Media Center hardware


HP have announced a new Media Center PC that would look right at home next to other home entertainment devices.  The z500 series (link goes to PDF data sheet) supports dual tuners and most interestingly to me is compatible with the iPod (they say the Apple iPod from HP, but I bet a regular Apple one would work as well) using HP Tunes to access iTunes from 10 feet.  That’s a pretty cool feature.  It’s also got built in 802.11g so getting it set up at home should be really easy.  No indication of prices yet, but I’ll be quite tempted with one I think.  There’s a much bigger picture here.

Staying on the HP theme.  They’ve also announced their Extender device.  The x5400 (link goes to PDF fact sheet).  Extenders are pretty cool devices.  They’re boxes that connect to a TV and have either a wired or wireless network connection back to your Media Center PC.  They display the Media Center UI on the TV and let you browse all your media just as you would on the PC.  You can watch live TV streamed from your PC and pause, skip, rewind and fast forward just as you would with the PC.  It’s almost like having a second Media Center PC.  You can connect a number to a single PC (five I think) and still use the Media Center PC normally, so there’s no reason not to have one in every room in the house.  This also means you can put your Media Center PC somewhere that isn’t next to a TV and then use the Extender with the TV.  This should hopefully make using a Media Center easier for a lot of people.

Speaking of Media Center’s in the living room.  One & Co. have a design for a Media Center that they think will fit into the living room better.  It’s an interesting design and I like some aspects of it and the concept, but I’m not that thrilled with the total design.  Maybe it will give some OEMs some ideas and someone will come up with a new design.  I really want to see more design’s like HP’s above – that’s a really nice looking system that doesn’t look like a PC.  My 873N fits in OK next to my TV, the colours are just about right for it to blend into the TV stand that it sits next too, but it still looks like a PC.

Where would you rather put your Media Center, by the TV or in a different room?  Would you pay extra for a Media Center design that didn’t look like a PC but like a consumer electronic device?

Comments (8)

  1. Felix says:

    I would rather keep a Media PC in a separate room, but only if I can play DVD’s from the Extender. It would be nice if the extender had a DVD player attached to it. What would even be better is if I can rip my dvd’s to the media center and have the Extender load the movies from over the network.

    Another feature that the Extenders are missing is a Memory Card reader. This would make it the ultimate electronics device. If I had to list it in priority though

    1. Play ripped DVD’s

    2. Memory Card Reader

    3. DVD Drive

  2. Chris Kenyon says:

    Big fan of my HP 2004 Media Centre. As an early adopter I have been happy working through some of the quirks of 2004 MCE (crahsing while watching TV…) BUT I do expect a clear upgrade path to 2005 to be availble.

    You need to spend time with partners encouraging this as much as you do introducing new partnerships.

  3. Dude says:

    Hmmm… Still no HD tuners? Why bother to hook it up to the listed TVs ( Plasma, DLP, LCD )? Come on people!

  4. MS says:

    It would be awesome if someone made some software for regular XP that allowed you to use it as an extender (ie. stream live tv to a 2nd pc from your mce box).

    To be back on subject I built my own mce machine and used the Antec Overture as my case. http://www.antec.com/images/400/Overture.jpg

    As you can see in the picture that case looks right at home under any tv.