Would You Buy a Media Center Extender TV?

the next generation of Media Center Extenders (MCX) are due out next year, and one
of Microsoft’s goals for some time has been to integrate Media Center Extender
technology into LCD/Plasma HDTV’s.

Since it looks like Pika will actually be introducing this years
after the initial concept, I’m wondering how many of you would be interested in
purchasing one of these?  If there were
HDTV’s with Media Center Extender’s built-in, would you rather purchase one
over an HDTV without it?  Any features it
must have before you would purchase? 

Anyone else thinking an Extender TV at this point is a
little late to the market?

26 thoughts on “Would You Buy a Media Center Extender TV?

  1. Actually I think this is something that will grow as vista MCE gains some traction and cable (and hopefully) satellite can be more easily pumped into a single repository point and then streamed to whatever front end is on the LAN. If anything I think it’s a little early, they need to be making these highly HD compliant and leveraging the more of a blade the way the 360 does to get a full MCE experience.
    Things that will hurt adoption though are:
    DRM and general broadcast flag foolishness
    Lack of DVD/HDDVD playback from main system

    I don’t think to many folks would pay a premium for this but it would be great for MS if it almost became a standard option :).

  2. My only fear would be if down the road say a few years the TV wouldn’t be supported on a newer version of Media Center. This happened to the original xbox and v1 extenders.


  3. I think it is a great idea. What I fear is when Version 3 comes out and I do not have access to the next major version of media center. What I really want is the extender to have a dvd player at a minimum somthing they have lacked so far.

  4. I’m not so sure that’s a good idea. Hell, I really don’t know. I guess it can’t hurt.

    But I’ve said this at Charlie Owens blog a couple of times now when he starts wondering why folks aren’t using MCE or what can be changed. Somebody needs to make a stand alone MCE box…that’s affordable…talking TiVo prices (or less). I can’t see my mother and sister-in-law running cat5e cable thru the house to hook up an extender. Maybe MS should make a separate accessory for the xbox360 that would accept a TV input and 3.5″ HD and would allow the 360 to be it’s own MCE.

  5. I don’t understand extenders in the first place. For $400+O.S., you can build a really nice low-end low profile pc that will do live TV, DVD playback, and playback any video type with ease. The extender functionality of a 360 is a excellent bonus, but in no way do I consider it a replacement for a media center pc. To me, the little money saved for an extender doesn’t come close to making up for the lack drawbacks.

  6. No. I want the Window Client. I have a few wireless laptops. Would be much better to watch live tv on porch or in shop or where ever.
    MS we want out Window software extender. Hell I would pay considerably for it. $120 isn’t unreasonable to me for the software extender.

  7. Adam: I have the reverse issue, I don’t understand using anything *except* an extender. I’ve never once used a straight MCE to TV hook-up, always going through my XBox (original) or 360 instead. I’m curious what drawbacks you’re talking about?

    For me I don’t understand HTPC’s. Why not just have a huge server-style PC hidden away somewhere and “extend” all over the house with low-budget extenders that can look good and will always be more low-profile than a HTPC.

    I have a large tower with all my tuners plus three 500GB external drives for recording on. If I ever run out of space, no biggie, just add on more drives. Want more tuners? No problem, I still have a bunch of slots left. Never worry about overheating either.

    All that being said, a TV with a built-in extender would be gravy but it would *ONLY* sway my decision if everything else was exactly equal. With a TV the bottom line is picture quality. Everything else to me is secondary, except perhaps the actual design of the unit. Something that is 50″ or bigger needs to look good.

  8. As mentioned by Shahn, what happens when v3 extenders are released – will v2 be abandoned as v1 has been?

    If extender technology is delivered in reasonable priced well-spec’d set-top boxes then personally I would be more accepting of this kind of redundancy but if I were paying a premium for having it built-in to a HD LCD TV I would expect continued support for as long as I had that TV.

  9. Without some technology guarantee, I’d never select something as big and as long-term as a television based on extender technology.
    PQ, price, brand reliability come first. Unless it is a hard and fast standard like ATSC or Cablecard, it doesn’t belong in a device that I expect to last me 10+ years. Otherwise it gets put into a box beside the television and when the technology eventually gets abandoned I sell it on eBay.

  10. Great feedback guys! =)

    It looks like the main thing here is lack of assurance that it will work beyond two years of purchase. While I don’t know this for a fact, but the v2 Extender should have firmware that can be updated much better than the v1 Extenders. However, this begs the question of how it would on done on an Extender built into a TV. Over the network? Built in flash reader? Do I really want to make my new TV a brick when/if the firmware update fails?

    My comment about being too late to the market is kind of centered around a lot of MCE users already having upgraded their SDTV’s to HD long ago. If this is you, are you going to re-buy for your main HDTV, or would the Extender TV be something you would add in addition, say like in the Guest Room or such?

  11. Adam, I have to side with Shawn too. There is no denying that DirectShow is still not what it should be, and this leads to playback problems using the PC. I see it all the time, and would rather do away with those and put an Extender in the Living Room. The PC lives in the Game Room, where it doesn’t get used often. However, when people want to go up there and watch, they still can.

    There are several other reasons why an Extender might take the place of the PC (and these kind of echo opuntia thoughts about a standalone box).

    There are some drawbacks of using an Extender over the PC, the main ones I can think of are the lack of good DVD streaming to Extenders, the inability to rip media to the PC from the extender, and the inability to do things like burn a DVD or sync to a device from the Extender.

    To each his own though, that is one thing the Media Center platform is good at proving.

  12. I would absolutely buy one so long as the price was resonable (aka – less than a 360). I for one would love to see what MS’s suggested media setup would look like. Media Connect is great but doesn’t do recorded TV through MCE and can’t play even purchased Urge songs on a local net.

    There seems to be some bits and bobs in Vista that are network aware for media sharing but if you try and go “all the way” you run into all kinds of DRM and file permissions.

    I would like to see the Microsoft concept for having all a home’s media endpoints using Microsoft tech – from what’s I’ve seen in the Vista time-frame it’s impossible.


  13. The fewer boxes that I have in my family room the better.

    if they could ocnvince me that it is somewhat future proof then I could buy it in a heartbeat (assuming that the feature set was attractive)

  14. You have all made really good points. I would definitely be interested in a LCD with a build in extender for the kitchen or bedroom wall. For me, I have two pc’s in the office for editing my freelance videos, and didn’t see the point of dropping a third there for MCE. Why not drop it in the entertainment center rather than in the office and purchase an extender. I guess I just never read a review of the V1 extender that was satisfied. I was as few components under the HDTV as possible is important to me – thus I want a built in DVD player, as well as the features you mentioned chrisl – ripping, burning, syncing. I haven’t had hands on usage of the 360 extender, as I don’t own one, but I can see where they (v2 extenders) would prove very effecient & effective.

  15. I’d consider it. But add me to the list of people concerned about MSFT’s tendency to forgo backwards compatibility in favor of rushing to market (or DRM, or whatever the reasons are for dropping V1 extenders in Vista).

    I have been running with a dedicated X360 for over a year. It’s flawless and far more stable than running straight from the MCE PC.

  16. Yes…

    …although I would be worried about future upgradability issues – it is bad enough throwing away an v1 extender with the release of vista, I certainly wouldn’t want to throw away a v2 extender TV when a v3 OS is launched.

  17. Yeah lets throw away the TV when MS release a new version of the software, so MS can get away with “We leave updates to the manufacturer” clause just like they do all the time with Windows Mobile software and the fact that existing extenders cant be updated!

    Lets add to the mountain of discarded and hazardous consumer waste just so Ballmer and co get richer.

    In theory Im all for it, but I just know the current operating model regarding upgrades. MS rarely stick by software, they just invent a new version which is deliberately not upgradeable on these type of devices.

  18. Yes, I would buy an extender-TV, but only if there was strong backing to allow software upgrades to fix any issues, add features and especially to make it keep up to date with the newest Media Center front end software. It would also be nice if they could do this as well as make the device with open source software as an option. Then perhaps the community could make it even better.

  19. As I know the lifetime of the extender would never coincide with the lifetime of the hdtv. I can think of only 2 ways that I would buy an extender built into an hdtv:

    1) The cost was negligable.

    2) The extender was a standardized replaceble unit (in size, mounting and connection). So that I could buy any extender, made by anyone, pop the old one out of the hdtv, and pop the new one in. Or if the monitor went, I could buy a new monitor, and pop my current extender in.

  20. An extender-equipped TV?

    Yeah, right.

    For all of you thinking this would be a great idea, just imagine for a second that there were extender-TVs for sale last year, to be used with your current Windows XP Media Center 2005 implementation.

    And then imagine that you bought one…

  21. I love the MCE interface vs that of cable companies listings or DVR functionality. What I don’t understand is why someone has not built a box that runs MCE for storage access but has a built in tuner to pull the TV signal directly, thus improving the overall performance. Why watch live TV over a wireless network when you can just plug it into a cable jack? Again, I love the MCE interface and as everyone else am frustrated that devices lack intelligence and the ability to recieve upgrades.

  22. No. I just bought a flat-panel TV a year ago, and its’ HD, why should I buy a new TV when all I need is an EXTENDER with HD output.

    How about MS release a pika extender that looks like Apple TV ? – I’d buy an apple TV box tomorrow if it worked with MCE ,but it doesnt.

    Unless MS hurry up, Apple will steal your dream of media center in every lounge room… can we have the pika extenders REALLY SOON please!! (like now)

    PS: Dont make me buy one of those Xbox360 heaters to put under my TV, I couldnt stand the noise!

    PPS: And, how about releasing SoftSled, we know it exists – someone must have written it… 8-)…. stop the taunting – or we all go to Apple.



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