Alienware Disappoints With Media Center Re-entry

Alienware got back into the Media Center game today after a
few year hiatus.  The Hangar18
is what they decided to come back with, and in my opinion they should not
have even bothered.  This machine is flawed is
so many ways I can’t suggest that anyone look to purchase one. 

According to Alienware is this supposed to be a “HD
Entertainment Center.”  Maybe someone can
explain to me how an HD Entertainment Center can only support a single
HD source; OTA ATSC.  No CableCARD. 
No HD DVD.  No Blu-ray.  It is HDCP Ready, though it’s not like that matters as only the options they didn’t
include need HDCP to begin with.

It only supports 720p output on the base configuration and
it’s a $200 upgrade in order to support 1080p output.  According to the PDF product summery it uses
an integrated graphics solution from NVIDIA. 
Why not use an 8000 series graphics card?  They cost next to nothing and they are passively
cooled, the perfect Media Center solution.  There is little to no reason to
build a Media Center and not either look at the 8500/8600 series or the new 2400/2600
from ATI.

In addition, this disappointing PC starts at $2000
and only includes a single NTSC and ATSC tuner. 
You can add additional tuners, but only on the low end 720p
configuration.  Once you “upgrade” to 1080p
“support” it locks you out of configuring more than two tuners.

I’ll give Alienware a little credit here for designing a nice
case with front media controls (although it looks like it can light a room
alone with its numerous LED’s), shipping systems with a Gyration remote, and
including an 1000-watt amplifier which I do praise them for.

Other than that, I can’t recommend anyone purchase this
machine.  All other Media Center PC vender’s have been including HD DVD and/or Blu-ray as an option for months now.  Even smaller companies have been shipping
CableCARD now.  Alienware, who is owned
by Dell should have no issues doing the same and hopefully this doesn’t foreshadowing waiting even longer for Dell to enter the CableCARD market.

My advice to Alienware: Include HD DVD, Blu-ray, and dual
CableCARD as options.  Don’t advertise as
a complete HD solution until you catch up with everyone else has been doing.  Put a 8500/8600 or 2400/2600
low profile passively cooled GPU in there and allow for four tuners to be
configured in all systems.

Related: Chris
Chats with Alienware; Hanger18 Redeems Itself

7 thoughts on “Alienware Disappoints With Media Center Re-entry

  1. Nice review. I got a rush when I saw this thing too until I noticed the lack of CableCARD – definitely killed the mood. So far, I have only seen HP actively shipping CableCARD. You mention that there are other “smaller” ones currently shipping. Do you have a list?

    Thanks in advance.

  2. Velocity Micro and S1Digital are both currently shipping CableCARD systems. Niveus Media (high end) and Sony (more costly then HP, only single tuner option like HP) also have systems.

  3. Agree with everything you’ve said here buddy, i was just thinking the same thing. I configured the $3k machine & was like, That’s it??

  4. I had the exact same reaction Chris. I am beginning to get frustrated by these OEMs. I went to a Sony store in Virginia and saw the VGX-XL3. No mention of cablecard in the store and it was not even hooked up so you could see the media center interface. I get the feeling no one understands the market or even the purpose for one of these machines. That is why killing the DIY market hurts.

  5. Did anyone notice that they added a 5.1 Surround Sound Class D amplifier? This would allow you to use one ONE device in your living room (besides the TV).

    I don’t this is such as bad device, the rest of the missing items can be added, well, except the CableCard tuners.

  6. Yes, I noted the amp in my. It’s really a great addition, but why would you spend the money to add what doesn’t come with it when you could purchase a PC from another vendor for cheaper that includes everything the Alienware is missing?

    The amp is a great addition, but Alienware seems to have left out the HD part of what they are calling an HD Entertainment Center.

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