Update: Joe Belfiore, VP of the eHome division at Microsoft addressed some of
these issues in the comments of this post, scroll down for more.
Well, so much for v2 Extenders being anything close to a
success. I’ve been talking
about what price points a successful Extender needs to be at for years (2005 here people), and today
we find out that D-Link’s
offering is set to retail for $350, and considering that Linksys’
is most likely built on the exact same hardware it isn’t likely to be much
different in price (Updated: Just announced at $300 for standalone, and $350 for DVD/Extender. Not bad in comparison to D-Link, but nothing to get excited about)
What doesn’t Microsoft understand here? First the
public’s feeling is that they are limiting Extenders to the Xbox 360 so they
can grab all the profit (not really since they lose on every 360, but that’s
the general public’s feeling) so their solution is have partners add Wireless-N
and additional codec support in standalone v2 Extenders and sell it for $80
more than an Xbox 360? Even better, codec
support on the Xbox 360 Extender doesn’t seem like it will improve much so their is no “good” Extender to purchase for someone like me.
Unless these prices can fall fast, I think this is the end for Extenders. Great concept, but they just can’t pull it together. I’m not paying $350 for a standalone Extender, and that sets the DVD/Extender combos at somewhere between $400-$450. Crazy. Anyone want to guess what premium an Extender TV will come at now?
I think this is the last time Linksys will touch the
product. Their v1 Extender bombed due to platform restrictions on
Microsoft’s part and high price, and I don’t see them pushing to many v2
Extenders unless their price is much lower. Two failed product revisions
would tell me to get out of that market and concentrate on my own offerings
much like HP has done with their MediaSmart division.
While I don’t like where they are going in terms of being able to work with protected content, I’m now very interested to see what price point Sage’s upcoming standalone Extender will ship at. Microsoft has yet to be able to put the pieces together with Media Center; my renewed internet in Media Center has now fallen so low that I can’t even explain it.
To sum it up, four CableCARDs only for custom installs. v1 Extenders don’t work on Vista (no rebate program
either). Overpriced v2 Extenders. No DVD streaming to overpriced Extenders. No MPEG-4 support in Xbox 360 Extenders. No SoftSled (Software Extender). Delayed launch/beta of the Media Center
update in Vista. No DIRECTV support despite
it being announced two years ago. Zune that doesn’t sync with Media Center. Windows Home Server which doesn’t work out-of-the-box with Media Center. <Insert other bad choices here by eHome and other Microsoft product divisions>.
If I was running a company or division that I didn’t want to succeed, what would be my next move? The good thing is that we don’t need to guess, just wait another few months and it is bound to happen right in front of our eyes.
Edit: I’d also like to note that D-Link has their DSM-520, and while it is not a Media Center Extender it does support the exact same formats (DVR-MS, MPEG-2, WMV9, MPEG-4 ASP, MPEG-4 AVC) and can be purchased for $150 to $180 at major US retailers. While the UI sucks, you are basically paying double the price for a true Media Center Extender that gives you access to the nice UI, a single management point, access to your PCs tuners, and the ability to playback protected recordings.
Update: Linksys standalone v2 Extender will be $300, DVD/Extender will be $350. HP will provide an update for their current MediaSmart HDTVs to enable Extender functionality.
Update: Joe Belfiore, VP of the eHome division at Microsoft addressed some of these issues in the comments of this post, scroll down for more.