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Old 03 September 2006, 11:51   #1
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Windows XP media centre

My 16 yr old is spending his hard earned on a new PC, he'll use it for games, pictures, play DVD's and of course use itunes for his ipod. Some of the systems advertised include XP media centre, the demo of it looks great but is it really good or a bit more big brother from Microsoft, it would seem an ordinary XP version can be made to do all of the above but perhaps not as prettily? Anyone any thoughts.
Thanks.
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Old 03 September 2006, 12:10   #2
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Basically, Media Centre is Windows XP home with a pretty addon which works well with standard television sets that do not support HD. You can run it without the Media Centre stuff, and it'll work and feel just like Windows XP home, but at the click of a button with the remote control that you will get with it, the system will open up a different front end.

I run Windows Media Centre on a standalone pc, and it outputs directly to by tv set. In the back, I have a digital video card, and a sound card. When operating, I can be watching digital tv, and still be using instant messenger at the same time for example. It also comes with a tv guide thing which isn't that great to be honest, but if you can get it to pick up all your channels, it'll record tv to the hard disk for you.

To be honest, when I bought the thing a month back, I thought it would be a bit of a gimmick, but it's allowed me to listen to my music etc... without affecting what I'm doing on the main pc which I use mainly for video editing etc...

As far as I am aware, you cannot get an ordinary version of windows xp to turn into a media centre pc - you have to get the software from day 1, but I may be wrong..

If you do rig it to the tv, I'd suggest a Super video out connection, since it's a bit more crisp than just standard video.

-Alex
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Old 03 September 2006, 16:24   #3
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I have no experiance of media center, and use a pc with xp pro on it. Persoanlly I find that pro lets me do everything I want/need to in terms of entertainment. I've installed an RF modulator just after our main tv arial so I can watch the output from my pc on any tv in the house. This, coupled with a pocket pc running vnc over my wireless network lets me watch films, listen to music, on any tv, and all controlable wirlessly through the pocket pc pretty much anywhere in the house. I have a a tv tuner card but I never use it (its not a digital one though) although if u did have one u could odviously do the same thing with the tv picture/sound.
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Old 03 September 2006, 22:27   #4
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Agreed - XP will do everything if you know how. I suppose it all comes down to ease of use. My brother has an interesting setup which uses an IR remote to control the NTL box - he then records progs using Beyond TV onto the hard disk in full DVD quality. Much like Sky+ only better.

Sadly Svideo is not true RGB - known to the Yanks as component. It is better than Composite but there aren't any capture cards that use true RGB - a great shame as it is much better. The NTL boxes output true RGB so to feed into a capture card you need a converter - or use Composite which is crap!!!
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Old 04 September 2006, 03:20   #5
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Thanks for the responses guys, it seems media centre will not speak to an ipod, as my son has his earphones apparently welded in permanently this may be a deciding factor. Thanks again
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Old 04 September 2006, 14:45   #6
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I don't understand why media centre won't speak to an ipod? - if you install iTunes ( ) as normal it will work just fine.

I have a digital terrestrial decoder card in my media centre pc, which records with excellent quality, although I have a pinnacle capture card on the main pc, which takes stuff off the sky+ box in s-vhs format, which is far better than standard composite video.

The great thing about media centre is that you can get set top boxes which connect to it, and then you can get the media around the house via the network. I have cunning plans for my media centre box to hide in the cupboard at some point with it controlling things like heating, lights etc...

The remote controller on media centre will control other infrared stuff as well which is pretty handy, so as is, I "should" be able to get it to control the a/c unit which is remote controlled......

-Alex
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Old 08 September 2006, 10:08   #7
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I hate Itunes. Media Player 11 is now avalible and is suposed to much better than previous versions. Ive downloaded it but its really arsey about running without the latest updates for windows. Grrr
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