Microsoft gives Extenders another go

26th Sep 2007 | 23:00

Microsoft gives Extenders another go

Welcome to tech.co.uk's new Media Center Blog - Media Centered. I'm Ian Dixon, podcaster, blogger and Media Center Enthusiast. The big news this week is all about Microsoft's new Windows Media Center Extenders.

Welcome to tech.co.uk's new Media Center Blog - Media Centered. I'm Ian Dixon, podcaster, blogger and Media Center Enthusiast. I've beentalking and writing about Windows Media Center since 2004 and have produced over 100podcasts on the subject. You might say I'm a bit of a Media Center geek!

All about Media Center

This new blog will focus on bringing you the latestnews from the world of Media Center and the Media Center community.

My weekly Podcast, called " TheMedia Center Show", features guests ranging from the Media Center developers at Microsoft to hardwaremanufactures and digital media enthusiasts. You can find my podcast at TheDigitalLifestyle.com.

The Extender strikes back

The big news this week is all about Windows Media Center Extenders. Today (Thursday) sees the launch of the 2ndgeneration of Windows Media Center Extenders.

These include: the DMA2200 (with built-in DVD player - pictured) and the DMA2100 from Linksys; the D-Link DSM-750 MediaLounge HD Media Center Extender; and the HP MediaSmart LCD HDTV. You can read Microsoft's full press release about the new Extenders here.

Extenders are hardware devices that enable you to extend the Media Centerinterface to your TV without having to have a PC connected to it. This meansno more noisy PC in your living room. Instead you get a wife-friendly slimlinebox connected to your TV that has the slick Media Center user interface. It can stream all the content from your PC - recorded/live TV, pictures and music.

You can have up to five Extender devicesconnected to a PC simultaneously, which means five people can stream their preferred content over a wired or wireless network. Some of the new devices (the two from Linksys, for example) come with wireless N built-in, so they are capable of streaming HD.

Can Extenders find an audience?

I should mention that there is onetype of Extender already available. The Xbox 360 is already capable of media streaming, it's the device I useand it makes a great Media Center Extender. One downside of the 360, however, is the fannoise and this does put some people off.

You can watch Joe Belfiore, CorporateVice President of the Entertainment and Devices Division at Microsoft giving akeynote at Digitalife 2007. Here, he showsoff the V2 Extenders via an on demand stream provided by Microsoft.

On this week's Media Center Show Ihave an interview with Hakan Olsson from Microsoft who talks about the newgeneration of Extenders. We will be talking about why there is a need forExtenders and what kind of experience we can expect from them. We'll also betalking about which manufacturers are bringing out the Extenders.

Beyond the set-top box

One point to note is that Media Center Extendersdon't necessarily have to be standalone boxes. The technology could easily be built into TVs (note the HP MediaSmart LCD HDTV that's been announced), DVD players and many other devices. Personally, I'd like to see anExtender complete with an HD DVD drive. But we will have to wait and see if thathappens.

Sadly there is noinformation about when these new boxes will be available in the UK, but as soon asany information comes out I will let you know.

Also announced at DigitalLife is a newbeta from Microsoft for Media Center called "Internet TV". This is aUS-only service (Hey Microsoft! How about getting some content for the UK!) that will offer hundreds of hours of entertainmenton demand - including full-length shows, music concerts and movie trailers, allfor free and supported by adverts.

I think this is step in the right direction forMicrosoft. It uses the power of the PC and its internet connection to bringweb content to the TV. So check out this week's podcastand watch the keynote

ComputingDigital homeNetworkingMicrosoftMedia Center
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