or Connect
AppleInsider › Forums › General › General Discussion › Digital Hub vs. Media Center PC
New Posts  All Forums:Forum Nav:

Digital Hub vs. Media Center PC

post #1 of 20
Thread Starter 
An article today
<http://story.news.yahoo.com/news?tmp...5&sid=95609566>
suggests that Apple may be behind with its Digital Hub strategy. I personally don't think so, seeing it rather as a philosophical & lifestyle difference. Yet PC users can already record TV programs for later playback without leaving the couch. Well, Macs are for content creators & PCs are for content consumers, but all of us consume content, so the question is what is the most creative future hardware setup? I barely watch TV, and think it doesn't have long to live, as the bandwidth barrier comes closer to collapse. TV is a way to get us to watch commercials. What if all the world's content was available online, & bandwidth wasn't a problem? Bye bye Broadcast TV as we know it? Or do we really want inane repetitious formulaic programs that insult our intelligence?

So what is the real digital hub of the future?
post #2 of 20
I'm going to scoot this over to General Discussion, since it involves not only hardware, but software and non-Apple products.

For me, the key to any future is interoperability, and that's what the Digital Hub is about. If there are used and respected industry standards, then Apple doesn't have to make everything or fragment their platform in a million different directions the way Microsoft has done. They don't really even need to do anything - TiVo can write OS X software too, if they want to.

Personally, I'm not sold on controlling my (hypothetical) TV and PVR from the couch if the controller is something as ungainly as a PC.

The issue of content quality is different. It costs money to create content, and that money has to come from somewhere. If you successfully bypass ads on a large scale, then the studios will have to find another source of income, and they'll go from being beholden to advertizers to being beholden to someone else. How exactly that works out depends on a lot of variables.
"...within intervention's distance of the embassy." - CvB

Original music:
The Mayflies - Black earth Americana. Now on iTMS!
Becca Sutlive - Iowa Fried Rock 'n Roll - now on iTMS!
Reply
"...within intervention's distance of the embassy." - CvB

Original music:
The Mayflies - Black earth Americana. Now on iTMS!
Becca Sutlive - Iowa Fried Rock 'n Roll - now on iTMS!
Reply
post #3 of 20
Thread Starter 
Fair enough about moving the post. I agree about the plethora of variables. I see interesting possibilities in a system where people could have more of a choice about what they watch & when they watch it. Clearly, the dough has to come from somewhere, but the present system supports the lowest common denominator. Of course, I heard some statistics show the lion's share of total internet traffic is porn.... oh well.

But, assuming we could pick & choose from vast online libraries of knowledge & entertainment, art and culture, and still find a way to pay for new programming, we would seem to have more choices in our digital future than in our broadcast past.
post #4 of 20
There is no way that Hollywood would go to some sort of internet-based television without mounds of DRM.

OTOH, an internet-based lifestyle would be a great thing, if its pulled off right.

If I could stream music from my computer to my stereo, wirelessly, with Rendezvous, I'd consider that to be part of a Digital Hub lifestyle.

If I could route my phone calls through to my computer, and filter by phone number, I'd consider that to be part of a Digital Hub lifestyle.

If I could take a picture, and instantly have it uploaded to my computer, and then my website, I'd consider that to be part of a Digital Hub lifestyle.

If I could bookmark DVD chapters by voice command, while sitting in my living room, I'd consider that to be part of a Digital Hub lifestyle.
post #5 of 20
The major difference between the Digital Hub and the Media Center PC's is that the Media Center PC's suck...

Understand?

post #6 of 20
Another Fluff piece of no real substance

From Microsofts site.

http://www.microsoft.com/windowsxp/m...tion/top10.asp


Media Center 2004 Top 10 features


Quote:
Do amazing things
Windows XP Media Center Edition 2004┬╣ is one of the most fully featured versions of Windows you can get for a home PC. Built on Windows XP Professional, it delivers the same power, reliability, networking capabilities, and security features you expect, plus tools that help you do amazing things with digital media. Create, manage, and enjoy your world of digital music and video using Windows Media Player 9 Series. Download Windows Movie Maker 2 and use it to turn your digital video clips into professional-looking movies. Communicate with friends and family in real time using text, voice, or video with Windows Messenger.

Hmmmm kind of like what I already have with OSX and iApps minus the need for "security" patches every week.

Quote:
Enjoy digital entertainment in a single system
Windows XP Media Center Edition 2004 gives you easy access to more types of entertainment experiences without the complexity of multiple devices. Media Center PCs are built to deliver the picture and sound quality you expect from a digital entertainment center. With support for adaptive de-interlacing and video scaling, Media Center delivers a smoother, sharper picture on high-resolution progressive scan displays. Support for 5.1 surround sound in Windows Media Player® 9 Series puts you in the middle of breathtaking audio.

"Complexity of multiple devices"? What complexity? Again hyping "Media Center" for features that other OS already have. Marketing BS

Quote:
Access more entertainment with less effort
Windows XP Media Center Edition 2004 keeps all your entertainment in one place. Menus and commands are consistent across all digital media and easily navigable using a mouse and keyboard or remote control. Within one unified view, you can browse thumbnail images of your music, photos, and videos to find entertainment easily. While you browse, the Now Playing window can keep your currently playing media selection in view and within reach. Search helps you find TV shows by category or keyword, or music tracks and albums by artist or genre.

I can't see the Interface but personally I don't want my Music managed like my Photos or Videos. The UI should be tailored to the media. Consumers are savvy enough to traverse small UI changes.


Quote:
Make your living space a home theater
Connect your Media Center PC to a standard or widescreen TV or a high-resolution display, such as a plasma or projection TV, to create a dynamic home theater environment. The TV Setup and Display Calibration wizards help you configure your TV signal, type of display, and video playback quality, so you can get the best possible quality experience. Enhanced 16:9 support lets you toggle between normal, zoom, and stretch video modes to make the most of widescreen displays. Start a movie, get comfortable, and enjoy.

Quote:
sss

This can already be done. HTPC(Hometheater PCs) offer nice features but what we need to know is what makes using a Media Center PC better than dedicated Hardware? I can't see much.


Quote:
"Time shift" live TV and radioand never miss a moment
Windows XP Media Center Edition 2004 puts you in command of all your entertainment choices, including live TV and radio. You can pause, rewind, and skip through live TV and radio as easily as videos or music. When interrupted, just press PAUSE to freeze the broadcast. With live broadcasts in your control, you can even advance recorded TV frame by frame, skip back or ahead by 29 seconds at a time, or replay a priceless moment.

Ahem Tivo, Replay TV. Nuff Said.

Quote:
Watch your TV shows on your schedule
Have your favorite shows waiting for you, instead of the other way around, by using the Personal Video Recording (PVR) features. Browse up to 14 days of upcoming programming in the Guide, or select category filters to display just the programming you want, such as sports, movies, news, music, or kids. Or you can search by title or keyword to find shows that interest you. Then set recordings of a single episode or an entire series, with or without reruns. Windows XP Media Center Edition 2004 can also automatically record shows based on keyword or category, title, actor, or director.

See the above answer. Sheesh this didn't need another bullet. Microsoft you're "reaching"

Quote:
Experience your digital memories with friends and family
Windows XP Media Center Edition 2004 is a versatile tool for viewing vivid, full-screen images of your digital photographs. You can navigate thumbnail images of photos stored in My Pictures, and zoom in, pan, and print a photo. Or you can insert a digital-imaging storage medium, such as CompactFlash or Secure Digital Cards, and launch a dynamic slide show of your vacation or special event complete with animated transitions and your favorite soundtrack.

Wow...we had this feature for a Decade.

Quote:
Work and play at the same time
Now you can watch a baseball game, movie, or video while performing other tasks on your PC. Simply resize the Media Center window to view your program or movie while simultaneously working, e-mailing, or surfing the Web. If you are interrupted while watching TV, just click to mute the volume and automatically display closed captions that stream along the bottom of the window.

Geez thanks. That TV and Tivo would have cost me $750 but your $1750 Media Center PC took care of that dilemma.

Quote:
Put your music at your fingertips
Windows XP Media Center Edition 2004 and Windows Media Player 9 Series help you build a digital music library or Media Library on your Media Center PC and make it easy to find the music you want. You can copy your CD, including album art and information, to your digital jukebox at the press of a button on the mouse or remote. Specify the file format that best suits your needs, and then optimize for efficient storage or for the highest possible fidelity to your original CD source. With your music collection in one place, use the remote to sort and shuffle by album, artist, song, or genre. You can select from one of 20 Auto Playlists that automatically update depending on your listening habits, or create your own playlists

Another retread.

Quote:
Connect with movies, music, and moreon demand
The Media Center PC and remote control can connect you to brand-new entertainment experiences. Windows XP Media Center Edition 2004 connects you with entertainment options available from leading online, on-demand content providers. Rent and watch digital on-demand movies. Find and download new music. Watch movie previews. Play games. Discover a world of entertainment content from the comfort of your favorite chair.

Um no thanks. Netflix is cheaper than your movies will ever be and until you provide more info on just what content I have access to this means nothing.

No I could be overreacting. I could fail to realize just how special Media Center is. However I doubt that. Microsofts approach is one of total Integration. "Use our software, submit to our plan" while Apples idea of Digital Hub is to create an infrastructure. I don't want a PC in my living room controlling my video. I want to tie together disparate products in an easy way(Rendezvous, Wireless) and have them work together. That way I can upgrade component at a time without tearing my whole system down.

Media Center is small potatoes. It's marketing buzzwords like "Digital Media Files" and repackaging photo viewer and Music technology under a new fancy sobriquet.

Microsoft severely overstates how easy it is to hook up components nowadays.

From DVD Burners with HD in them. Receivers integrated with DVD. There are plenty of options for those who want easy hookup.

Tech like HDMI(hdmi.org) will further help connect devices in a simply no muss no fuss manner.

My vote on Media Center is Thumbs Down. It'll take more that a puff piece with no substantive info to convince me that Microsoft has anything special with Media Center.
He's a mod so he has a few extra vBulletin privileges. That doesn't mean he should stop posting or should start acting like Digital Jesus.
- SolipsismX
Reply
He's a mod so he has a few extra vBulletin privileges. That doesn't mean he should stop posting or should start acting like Digital Jesus.
- SolipsismX
Reply
post #7 of 20
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally posted by hmurchison
Microsofts approach is one of total Integration. "Use our software, submit to our plan" while Apples idea of Digital Hub is to create an infrastructure. I don't want a PC in my living room controlling my video. I want to tie together disparate products in an easy way(Rendezvous, Wireless) and have them work together. That way I can upgrade component at a time without tearing my whole system down.
as anything special with Media Center.

Yeah, that's pretty much what I had in mind when I said I saw it more as a difference of philosophy or lifestyle. I was trying to envision what this infrastructure might look like. I think Apple would like us to have control of our media instead of being controlled by them. With bandwidth becoming less of a barrier, there may be more opportunities for small content creators to gain an audience, and for a variety of alternate channels of communication to evolve. Clearly, this is already happening to some extent.
post #8 of 20
The biggest benefit of a media pc to a "content creator" you can plug in your vcr and import legacy video and convert it to digital video. Those media centers sell quite a bit to budding filmmakers who would gladly take an Apple if they didn't need to buy a studio dvtv box. With the video in ports, the imacs and other products would be no competition with the ease of use of apples and the ilife software.
post #9 of 20
I found this on osViews:

URL




Contributor: Jim Westbrook
:: Open content

"Jupiter Research says that because Apple computer chose not to pursue the downloadable media business model, the market will be dominated by PCs running Windows. Jim Westbrook saw the error in that assessment and submitted the following editorial to osViews to correct the company on their ill-conceived conclusions."
---

Jupiter Research, the analysis firm commonly known for conducting polls geared to support Microsoft business objectives, released the results of a study it conducted that showed a large percentage of consumers are interested in downloading broadcast video on their PCs to be played on their television sets.

The results of the study come at the same time Microsoft announced a new version of its Windows XP operating system called, "Media Center Edition."

Jupiter analyst Michael Gartenberg offered some insight about the study that caught my attention. He claimed that the company's research showed that "the PC" will be playing an increasing roll as a repository for music, pictures and recorded TV shows.

Politically Correct PC

At first, you might assume that his use of the word "PC" was meant as an all-encompassing term meant to reference "personal computers" in a general sense. Gartenberg however, was instead referring to PCs as systems solely equipped with Windows.

In his analysis of the results, he made a point to exclude Apple from computer companies that allow consumers to download multimedia content. He said that Apple chose to take a different approach, choosing to focus on content creation rather than content delivery.

Excuse me? It was Apple that popularized downloadable media by way of its iTunes Music Store. It was Apple that developed technologies like Rendezvous, and popularized others like Bluetooth and WiFi, to assist in allowing one's music, pictures and movies to be transferred throughout a home or office. Apple isn't focusing on content delivery? Could have fooled me.

Is Apple developing an I.T.M.S.-like solution to allow PC users (in the general sense) to acquire content and play it on one's television? Without having any inside information, I don't have any problems saying, "You can bet on it!"

Broadcast Battles

The battle for dominance in content delivery isn't solely a struggle to create added value for their customers, although that is a small part of it, the business model has more to do with securing OS market share.

Multimedia is a key part of consumer operating systems. If an OS company killed competing broadcast standards and dominated the industry with its own proprietary one, opportunities for alternative OS growth would be greatly reduced. Because broadcast content delivery has the potential to make massive shifts in digital video standards, the technology has moved to the forefront of both Apple and Microsoft's business agendas.

In the end, I suppose the best technology will win. I find it comforting that Apple is utilizing open standards like MPEG4 and AAC, and I'm feeling very concerned that Microsoft and several others are doing the same for the company's proprietary Windows Media format.

I wonder if Microsoft might be concerned as well. If the company is getting "independent" research companies to push their agenda and also getting analysts to make misleading comments about the competition, it sure looks that way. ::
post #10 of 20
MediaCenter is crap. It's just Microsoft's idea to be *everytrhing to everybody*. Yeah, just what we need, more ties to the cancer that's the Microsoft monoculture.

As some people have already mentioned here on this forum, Microsoft just doesn't have the technology down pat yet where a single *component* will replace the modular approach that we already have. What's next, MediaCenter Refrigerators and Microwaves? It's completely ridiculous.

The smart approach (the one Apple is taking) is to maintain this modularity of various components. Let the stereo receiver be the stereo receiver. The camera be the camera, the TV or other monitor be the viewing medium. However, when one desires these components to *interoperate* with their computer system, then it should be at their fingertips.

Am I going to scrap the DVD player, stereo, CD player etc. and buy into the idea that a single component will do everything that I need? Hardly. What happens when it gets hosed? Why should I loose all my other *virtual* components just because the OS decided to take a nice big dump?

Someone once mentioned *streaming* video. I won't buy into the idea unless it functions exactly like the iTMS does with audio. Unless I have the option to burn a physical copy that I can "play where ever I choose" then I won't buy into the concept since it doesn't offer anything that can't already be had with less hassle. There are some good points to having a purchased video or show stored on the computer, but it's nothing that a simple, stand-alone component couldn't already offer at probably a fraction of the price.

When personal, on-demand streaming of video programming becomes more the norm, you can bet that makers of satellite and cable receivers will be building it right into their products. Again, there are clear advantages to maintaining separate components rather than the MediaCenter approach which want's to be everything to everyone. It might catch on as something trendy at the moment, but people will soon realize how ridiculous the concept is once they attempt to utilize it in the way that Microsoft hypes.

I believe that the hub approach is superior in that it doesn't attempt to *be* each and every component, but rather the hub or *central station* that allow all the other devices to interact. What happens if I decide I want superior sound quality? You won't be able to get that with these cheap-ass MediaCenter hobbles, but I can spend gobs of money (if I choose) on high-quality sound gear that will be vastly better and not worry about whether it will bring down the rest of the living environment.

I'm not sure there is a single advantage to having a MediaCenter PC. It seems like an incredible waste of time. Can anyone list any that can't be had with current, stand-alone, off-the-shelf components?

--
Ed
post #11 of 20
I'm not a huge fan of iMacs, as many here well know. The price is just way too high, so much of what I'm about to say is moot because even if they did it, I'd think twice before buying it, but still.

Apple is going to have to concede that a degree of media "consumption" wants to happen and that it does no good to ignore it, or stifle it when a simple solution is just a couple of A/V breakouts away. iMac would be the perfect computer for media "consumers" IF THE PRICE WERE RIGHT.

Let me explain.

iTunes has got the music end covered quite beautifully. The iMac itself would also make a neat little PVR/TV/DVD-recorder. Everything needed to pull it off is already on the machine. The screen is decent; It has a HDD (which really should be about twice the size for what Apple asks you to pay); the video chipsets are up to the task; the machines come equipped with firewire and USB2.

If Apple made a thin little base that fit snugly under the iMac and attached via firewire it could have A/V breakouts, and circuitry to preform DV/MPEG2-4 translation/recording of analogue and digital sources. A good analogue tuner costs nothing now. If they're very careful, they can leave room in there for a single extra 3.5 HDD.

They could even use .Mac and iCal to provide regional TV listings, or people could whip up and share their own. Plug base under iMac, plug cable into iMac, instant "media center"
IBL!
Reply
IBL!
Reply
post #12 of 20
Whether it works is irrelevant. It's what people want. Hell, they probably will not even use it. This is the difference between Apple and Microsoft. Apple wants to make everything perfect and perfectly useable. Microsoft doesn't care beyond the sale. If some nimrod can be convinced it's a great feature that the Mac does not have, it will hurt Apple in the end. Its a lot like the features built into digital cameras. Who needs to apply a sepia filter in the camera? Sadly, though, when many consumers are comparing, features like this sometimes are more important than resolution. Hopefully Apple can offer something to compete and it is not just a marketing gimmick.
When they said "Think Different", I ran with it.
Reply
When they said "Think Different", I ran with it.
Reply
post #13 of 20
Someone should do a head-to-head battle between a media centre PC and a Performa 6200.

Heck, I would, if someone would loan me the PC.

I reckon the results could be quite surprising


Amorya
post #14 of 20
Quote:
Originally posted by murk
Hopefully Apple can offer something to compete and it is not just a marketing gimmick.

Didnt Steve J mention some sort of handheld wireless device that could interact with all the bits (TV, PC, Audio)?

Sounds like that is all that is needed. As long as all the bits can comunicate and send stuff over wireless then each bit can do its thing as at present. Got music on you mac you wanna hear on you hi-fi, no problem, patch it over. Internet on you TV, push button B.

I guess until hi-fi's start shipping with wireless/ehternet ports 3rd parties could easily produce a separate box that would do that job for you.

Apple has provided the framework and the software infraestructre with Rendezvous, etc.

Perhaps nobody is providng the goods because they expect/hope Apple will. I for one would prefer such a product to be an Apple one. Especially if it connects with the iPod.

Apple realy should diversify more on the iPod concept - make that market lead into a mountain.
post #15 of 20
Quote:
Originally posted by Amorya
Someone should do a head-to-head battle between a media centre PC and a Performa 6200.

Heck, I would, if someone would loan me the PC.

I reckon the results could be quite surprising


Amorya

Please... No... not the x200s... they have a 32-bit motherboard with 32-bit memory, terribly slow Internet, disabled modem port by deafult, 4 cpu cycles to do anything, highly limited support for modems above 14 or 28k, almost all bus managment is ROM-based, music and typing together doesn't work, no networking together with SCSI eithier, if the modem needs to talk to the memory or IDE HD it takes forever, OpenT is not supported originally, they had bad ROMs, bad startup chime, web page loading loses typed characters, high HD access kills the graphics, and the same with network and downloads. I'd probably rather be stuck with a LC 550 or 575 then a Performa 6200!
Trainiable is to cat as ability to live without food is to human.
Reply
Trainiable is to cat as ability to live without food is to human.
Reply
post #16 of 20
Do I want a computer and a TV, or do want some crazy hybrid? I'll take the first, thank you. Plus, with HD finally making some noise, PVRs, Media Center PCs and a lot of hardware based around standard definition television will have to be updated.

Other than dorm rooms and cramped bachelor pad studios, I don't the value in the convergence anytime soon.

I'd rather see standardized connectivity (wired/wireless) between my Mac/PC and consumer electronics rather than all-in-one media centers. My A/V receiver should be able to receive audio wirelessly from my Mac. I should be able to completely control my ReplayTV, A/V receiver, TV, etc. from my Mac. My Mac shouldn't replace any of those items.
I can change my sig again!
Reply
I can change my sig again!
Reply
post #17 of 20
Eugene's got it.... The MediaCenter PC is just a bad idea. Some people will buy into it, but it will only be a minor trendy-type thing. Nothing to get all hot and bothered for. seamless *connectivity* BETWEEN DEVICES is the key. Not an all-in-one.

--
Ed
post #18 of 20
All I want is to run a FireWire cable from my Mac to my TV, and over that one cable send High Quality Video and 5.1 Sound. This is coming. Sending the signal the other way, from my Cable box back to my Mac is not much different.
Download BARTsmart BART Widget, the best BART schedule widget for Mac OS X's Dashboard.
Reply
Download BARTsmart BART Widget, the best BART schedule widget for Mac OS X's Dashboard.
Reply
post #19 of 20
hard-wired using FireWire is a great idea for connecting some (if not all) components; especially if it would be 100% self-configuring and plug-n-play the Apple way ;-)

However, another thing to consider is that 802.11g can handle plenty of bandwidth for HDTV. From what I understand, HDTV only requires roughly 28mbps -- 802.11g is cursing along at about 54mbps. Imagine the possibilities. Yes, separate, independent components is the way to go and not the lame idea of an all-in-one MediaCenter approach... buuuuuuut for some reason people will love the idea of another remote control (to run their computer this time). Yeesh.

--
Ed
post #20 of 20
A typical 1080i broadcast requires a mere 18 mbps at most. 720p requires slightly less. That's still pretty close to the "real-life" maximum throughput of 802.11g. It may not even be possible from one wireless client to another, since your throughput is effectively halved by doing so.
I can change my sig again!
Reply
I can change my sig again!
Reply
New Posts  All Forums:Forum Nav:
  Return Home
  Back to Forum: General Discussion
AppleInsider › Forums › General › General Discussion › Digital Hub vs. Media Center PC