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?