As I mentioned on my show the other night, our house is finally basking in the glow of HDTV! It’s truly an amazing experience, viewing high definition television within the comfort of your own home. Every single pixel is painted in happiness, dipped in the stream of media gold. My only issue now is: I don’t want to watch regular television. If it’s 4:3, it’s not for me. If it’s less than 1080i, then I’m not your guy. We’re now finding ourselves watching snoozer programming only because it looks astounding on the HD screen. How did I ever get along without HDTV? Only one who has walked the path of high definition could answer that question with conviction. The only frustrations I have are beyond everybody’s control!
Chris, it get’s “worse”. Next you’ll want to make sure your Media Center computer can talk to your computer in 16:9. Then your Xbox. Now when you rent DVD’s you’ll pay attention to the format and make sure you get the “wide screen” edition. Heck I just bought a new computer to use for our MCE system so I could use DVI straight from the computer to the TV (had been using Svideo, which will only do 4:3 at 1024×768).
Of course I also had to get a component video switcher becuase my TV only has 2 component inputs and 1 DVI. Currently our HD cable box goes to the TV in DVI and our DVD and Xbox use component. Now the PC will use DVI and the cable box, DVD and Xbox with use component. I just need to figure out what I want to “share” the switch box. I know it’ll be the Xbox, but I’m not sure what else.
What I can’t wait for is the Longhorn evolution of Windows. From what I’ve heard there will be no more Media Center edition … all that stuff will be a part of the Home feature set. [I’ve also heard the Tablet PC edition bits will be part of the Pro feature set, though none of this is set in stone]. Anyway due in 2006 will be HDTV support from the Media Center platform as well as support for Cable Cards, which are PC-card sized decoder cards already found in many of today’s plasma and LCD screens.
What will those new features mean? It’ll mean NO MORE CABLE BOX! Once all those technologies come together all you’ll be able to just rent a decoder card from your cable comany, plug that into your MCE box, and have full access to their eitire range of channels (at least those you subscribe to) directly in your MCE. The MCE computer becomes the HD tuner (no more IR blasting to control other devices), and the HD PVR, and the HD DVD player, and the CD player, and the WMA/MP3 player, and the digital video and picture viewer, and the … well, whatever you want it to be!
I just bought a Shuttle XPC G5 computer to put in our home media center. It’s got an Intel 3.2 GHz Pentium 4 540 processor, 1GB of 400 MHz DDR RAM, and a 200GB internal SATA hard drive on it. The case has 1 PCI-Express slot in it (the model I bought comes with an nVidia GeForce 6600 256MB card, and 1 PCI slot (which comes populated with an ATI tuner card). Should ROCK now, and it’s ready for Longhorn. Can’t wait until it arrives!
Does anybody else out there have a MCE computer in their home theater configuration? What do you think of it? What do you wish it had that it lacks, or did better?