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New Alienware Media Center 225

Cyno01 writes "Alienware recently introduced a new product that seems to fill the gap between PVRs and PCs. The Navigator Media Center. It runs a new version of XP (Media Center Edition) and displays pictures, movies and plays DVDs. If I had the cash for it i would definitly ditch my 160Gb HD and Radeon AIW card."
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New Alienware Media Center

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  • Build it (Score:3, Insightful)

    by D+iz+a+n+k+Meister ( 609493 ) on Tuesday November 19, 2002 @03:43AM (#4704330) Journal
    Wouldn't it be cheaper to just build one of those?

    Like, a lot cheaper

    • Re:Build it (Score:3, Informative)

      by l810c ( 551591 )
      Wouldn't it be cheaper to just build one of those?

      The Problem is you can't get XP Media Center(legally) without buying a new computer right now. I haven't seen XP MC in action, but I for one have been waiting for this convergence for quite a while.

      I've got an ATI AIW. It's cool and a really great use for an old PC and extra monitor, but the tools are just 'ok'.

      There are a couple of Linux programs out there, but last time I checked they were still in their infancy or had a more narrow focus.

      • Yeah this thing is great! Since it's running XP you'll get full DCMA restrictions. I bet this whore won't play mp3's it didn't rip, movies it didn't record or missing region encoding, etc. More crap from microsoft.
    • I scanned the component list, and nothing impressed me. But then my eyes fell on the free carnival quality t-shirt that is bundled with it, and I was hooked.
    • Re:Build it (Score:4, Insightful)

      by FyRE666 ( 263011 ) on Tuesday November 19, 2002 @04:37AM (#4704475) Homepage
      Wouldn't it be cheaper to just build one of those?

      Looking at the specs, I'd say probably so. But that's not the most important part: I've not check up on Microsoft's "Media centre" edition of XP but I'm betting it includes that marvelous mechanism whereby a broadcaster can prevent you from recording a program (and maybe even force recording for sponsor's programs).

      With a home-built solution you're free to use what you like... Makes you wonder who they're targeting this thing at really - since the tech-types will doubtless have the ability to build this from parts and the average J6P won't splash out $1700 to play DVDs and record programs. They seem to make a big deal of the 3D performance too, but I'd imagine playing Quake with a keyboard and mouse in the lounge is not the ideal gaming environment - and the picture will be crap on most TVs too...

      I do like their laptops though...
    • It looks like all they did was use a shuttle 51g box and add xp media center, gf4ti4200, sound hardware, and a hard drive for crying out loud. I could do it a lot cheaper (by starting with a 41g of course).
    • Most likely, and have a look at this

      Black Navigator Case (200-Watt PS)

      Intel® Pentium® 4 Processor 2.53GHz 533MHz FSB w/ 512KB Cache

      Hi-Performance Heatsink/CPU Cooling Fan

      512MB DDR SDRAM PC-2700

      My first consern...why all this stuff if it will play my DVD/SVCD/VCD/DivX/Mp3 ?. Sounds like serious overkill to me.

      My second consern, somewhat related to the first, how much heat does this piece generate? If I for some reason really would benefint from having 2.5 Ghz and 512MB DDR to play my media files, would I also benefit from the sound I assume the box generates? It sure cant be that silent... and if it sounds like a "shuttle", i really _dont_ need one of these in my living room.

  • Pity that they picked one of those ass-ugly Shuttle cases instead of a supersexy Soldam [soldam.com] model.
  • Is Microsoft making available Windows Media Center for the general public to build their own "Media Centers" or is this something that can only be purchased in these complete prebuilt systems?

    • Re:Microsoft? (Score:2, Informative)

      by taernim ( 557097 )
      I believe it is something only available on pre-made computers, although that may be changed in the future.

      It is a tweaked version of XP, mostly.
      But surely it will be released at some point.
      • by Anonymous Coward
        It is a tweaked version of XP, mostly.

        They mostly come at night, mostly.

    • Re:Microsoft? (Score:3, Informative)

      by h0tblack ( 575548 )
      AFAIK it's only available pre-installed on the special "Media Center PCs" at least that's what M$'s blurb [microsoft.com] says. There's more info on this OS (and some of the HP machines it was first announced to be used on) here [com.com] [that's news.com.com ;)]. To be honest I can't see how anyone would really want to splash out on one of these considering the high cost and restrictions placed upon it's use (can you say DRM). I'd rather use some of the Multimedia-centric Linux distribs out there. Then again, I've seen stranger things happen... especially in the mass consumer market.
      • Not a flame, but which distributions? I tried to get my Linux box to record TV to no avail (best I could do was video sans audio before ripping my hair out and giving up). I was using SuSE 7.2 or 7.3 and then switched to RedHat. I didn't realize there were distros directed at Multimedia. Can you tell me which ones? Thanks.


        • Well there's MythTV [mythtv.org] and FreeVo [sourceforge.net].

          The latter can't record as of yet AFAIK. While MythTV is more or less a complete TiVo replacement. (But apparently it's a bit of a bitch to get installed.) None of these are actual distros BTW. Both are just programs you run.
        • There are solutions for recording tv straight to your Linux box, for a start have a look at the Video4Linux resources here [exploits.org] and google and DistroWatch [distrowatch.com] are always your friend ;)

          While the various larger distributions are geared towards multimedia functionality to different degrees, it obviously depends exactly what you want out of your box and how much you want to play with the guts (hardware and software). Many people would be happy with a DVD/VCD/mp3 player rather than a full-blown PVR, and I'm not sure how much freedom you'll get in this area with Media Center Pc's - I doubt this version of XP is designed around being able to rip, mix and burn ;) This is where some of the other Linux projects come in (some focussed on the embedded market only though). Maybe distribution in the classical sense was not the best of description for me to use, although projects like Flamethrower Linux [washington.edu] are aiming for that - RedHat and Debian are working on multimedia based distributions, altho they are aimed more at the multimedia worker rather than player.

          Projects like Dave/Dina [apestaart.org], homeDVR [sourceforge.net], OpenPVR [sourceforge.net], MythTV [sourceforge.net] and FreeVo [sourceforge.net] aim at homebrew boxes somewhat akin to the Media Center idea and there are a myriad of sources for building boxes that do as much if not more than the Media Center. Flexibility is always good IMHO, and if you can start with a box that may just do DVD, DivX, CD's, mp3's and ogg, but expand it into a classic gaming machine running MAME et al as well as serving up content to the rest of your flat/house/hovel then that is "a good thing". More info at ding [sourceforge.net], eboxy [bluelightning.org].

          Remember that Linux is used for commercial PVR's (and the Moxi [digeo.com] Media Center [digeo.com]) too and while there are companies [metrolink.com] that do these things commercially, that's normally a sign of open versions being around somewhere, especially if you like to get your hands dirty :) If you don't, then it won't be long before you new (or old) console will be able to fulfill many of these functions, again, they already can to a degree, if you don't mind hacking away a bit.

  • Amazing! (Score:3, Funny)

    by Longinus ( 601448 ) on Tuesday November 19, 2002 @03:45AM (#4704336) Homepage
    "...displays pictures, movies and plays DVDs."

    Shit, I wish my computer could do all that!

    I think I just might ditch Linux and my self-built box in exchange for an over-priced pre-fab system with WindowsXP so that I too can enjoy the thrill of displaying pictures, movies and DVDs.

    Will the innovation never cease at Redmond?

  • Wow.....i'm really shocked at the prices on these things. "PRO" is 3--$ more for a .13 ghz increase...i mean REALLY here.....*sigh*
    (alienware makes some nice stuff...but so overpriced!)
    • Re:.13 ghz = 300$ (Score:3, Informative)

      by DietFluffy ( 150048 )
      Wow.....i'm really shocked at the prices on these things. "PRO" is 3--$ more for a .13 ghz increase...i mean REALLY here.....*sigh*

      The PRO version also comes with a Western Digital Special Edition 120GB Hard Drive and a Pioneer DVD-RW Drive. So, the $300 upgrade may be well worth it.
  • Ahhh... Shuttle (Score:1, Redundant)

    by inkyfellow ( 185492 )
    It appears to be based on this [shuttleonline.com] from Shuttle. They changed the color scheme though. :-)
  • This is jsut another micro-atx computer. Although alienware is sweet it was just a matter of time before they made one. As is standard with Alienware not many will buy it but everyone will want it.
    • As is standard with Alienware not many will buy it but everyone will want it. I have to disagree with that... Alienware would not be as successful as they are if few people buy. But then again, I'm guessing all they need to make a profit is one person buying their gear for every 1000 that want it... Since I'm sure most people drool over 'em. Sure it's overpriced but they're filling a niche that no one else seems to touch. Oh yeah, and the question. This is in fact new, Microsoft announced during Bill Gates Keynote speech. I for one got rather excited when I heard them mention Alienware partnering with Microsoft to produce Media Center PC's. It's probably the only company I'd buy a Media Center PC from, rather than slapping together my own.
  • Limited by TV? (Score:1, Interesting)

    by alargeduck ( 540045 )
    This is obviously intended to sit in a hometheater kind of situation. We all know how clear the picture is when its outputted by a TV. To get any kind of crispness, the display has to be at 512x386. Other than games (although its a little low for that too), the resolution isnt much good.

    Then again, people who can drop enough cash to meet alienware prices can probably afford a HDTV setup as well... Then it might be diffferent

    Its not a lowly specced machine by anymeans. Maybe it make a good lan box, or anything else where a small form factor is called for. Beowolf cluster anyone? :)

    Seriously, what can it do that any other PC cant?

    I bet a lot of spoiled brats are gonna get one for brag-value...

      that is the only reason to buy it instead of buying your own ss-51g (or gbox or..).

      because you can't have it seperately...
      i'm seriously having doubts about (all)games working straight on it(sure, they _should_, it's just another xp, but that was the case with xp itself too). this, and the probable 'easy' configuration system limiting what you're able to do lesser it's value.. (especially as lanbox).

      720*480 from gf2gts looked ok. anyone know any tv-out tweak tools for radeons?

      also, outputting movies through mpeg2 decoder cards looks great, though outputting divx through hollywood+ (that costs ~20-30$ now) eats huge amounts of cpu(95% on 1140mhz duron-morgan, the program used is HHPlus, hungarian hollywood+, and seems to be dropped out of dev, i highly recommend using codec such as ffdshow, or some extra codec to scale the picture, hhplus doesnt know how to do it properly), this is, the_best_tv-out from pc that i have seen. though, several limitations, like, you need to have another display to start the thing.. i'm yet to test mplayers hollywood+ output(on linux, my linux machines are not powerful enough to decode divx), but i'm told it's ok. i'd imagine building a headless linux box that could be operated through zaurus or similar wouldnt be that hard, and it would kiiiiiiiick ass. i only have combined bedroom, movie room, and computer room so i haven't had too much intrest to anything except highquality output to my lowquality shitprojector.
  • Do they really need a Geforce 4 to output DVDs? Is Alienware/ Microsoft aiming these products at the mobile gamers that want more horsepower then a laptop can provide. I think my Celeron 500 with 120GB hard drive does just fine for playing DVDs and the occasional TV capture with my old ATI AIW 128 card.

    • The GeForce4 series of cards were a big improvement over the GF2 and GF3 in TV output and DVD rendering. There is a definite visual improvement in watching DVDs on a GF4 vs GF3 and GF2. You also get 1024x768 TV output versus 800x600 in the pre GF4 cards.

      Cap it off with the fact that the GF4 Ti4200 are arguably the best bang for buck card on the market and you have a few reasons.
  • by flsquirrel ( 115463 ) on Tuesday November 19, 2002 @03:48AM (#4704351)
    These types of devices will never make it into my home entertainment system until they at east fit in my AV cabinet with my other components. 17 inches people. It's not that hard.
    • Most people are lucky if they can handle a flaccid 10. 17 hard? hardcore!
    • Even if was as hard as a diamond, it wouldn't be 17 inches.
    • Gateway's [microsoft.com] looks very sweet. However from the picture I can't tell their form factor. I can't even find it on their own website.

      Maybe that's why they are dying. :) It is a pre-announcement though.

      Okay, okay, it's the plasma display that caught my eye. The PC may be an ugly POS, and maybe that's why it's not being shown.

    • Actually, full rack-width metal cases are considerably more expensive than injection molded plastic enclosures of 1/2 the size. The market wants cheaper right now, so that's what everybody is building.

      I predict that stereo components will converge on a smaller standard over the next decade or so. There's really no need for such bulky cases any more - they hail from the days of massive vacuum tube assemblies, tape mechanisms, and power supplies - all totally obsolete now, with the exception of high-power solid state amps, I guess. If you open up a DVD player, for example, it's just one PCB in the front and then a bunch of dead space inside... personally I'd rather have the compactness of a mini system with the modularity of a component system. It'd be much cheaper, and would look better too.
      • Well, perhaps you are the visionary here, but I see that convergence as very far off.If ever. We all know how slow standards move. HDTV anyone?

        I look at my Sony DB930 Reciever (not super high end by anyone's definition, was $700 new) and it's pretty chock full at component width and some of the actuall highend models from B&K, Denon, Bob Carver, etc are even taller (at the same component width) and just as full or fuller. If I must have one component in my system that big, I'd rather waste a little space in the other components so they stack nice and neat.

        But not all the other components are wasting space. My 400 disc CD carasel is pretty chock full (once it has CD's in it) as would be one of those spiffy DVD carasels. Yeah, my single disc tray loading DVD player could be thinner. I wish it was actually, but I don't want it any narrower.
    • These types of devices will never make it into my home entertainment system until they at east fit in my AV cabinet with my other components.

      I don't care too much about the size but I do care about the bloody FANs (or harddrives for that matter).

      I'd much rather stuff a box like this in a closet and have a fanless, diskless box in my AV setup for playback over network.
    • These types of devices will never make it into my home entertainment system until they at east fit in my AV cabinet with my other components. 17 inches people. It's not that hard.

      Maybe not *your* system; however there are plenty of folks out there buying Nintendo GameCubes despite the non-AV dimensions that your argument fails to hold up. Besides, with the heat that this PC must generate, I can guarantee you wouldn't want to stack your carousel CD player on top of this thing.
  • Silence is golden (Score:5, Informative)

    by zeoslap ( 190553 ) on Tuesday November 19, 2002 @03:50AM (#4704358) Homepage
    The key with a media PC is that it needs to be wireless and it also needs to be silent, the living room just isn't any place for a whirring, hissing PC.
  • by puppetman ( 131489 ) on Tuesday November 19, 2002 @03:53AM (#4704367) Homepage
    and it doesn't run that crappy XP.

    Ok, I don't have the nifty remote, but I'm sure you can get one after market. Or get the All In Wonder 7500, like Tom did, and get a remote.

    There are instructions for this @ Toms Hardware [tomshardware.com].

    More flexibility on the configuration, etc, and you don't have to support any vendor (like Microsoft or Intel) that you don't want to.
    • So do I (Score:5, Interesting)

      by The Tyro ( 247333 ) on Tuesday November 19, 2002 @04:42AM (#4704487)
      Already own one of these, but I did it my way.

      Used a 4u rackmount case and slid it right into my home entertainment center/stereo rack. Used an 8500 AIW card, soundblaster LIVE, integrated LAN, duron processor, and enough memory to make it work.

      Fleshed it out with a wireless keyboard/mouse, some front port adapters, and a front-mounted LCD that displays song title/etc.

      Plays audio streams, CDs, DVDs, MP3s, TV-out... runs them right into the receiver unit for the home stereo. Best of all, it looks like it belongs right in the stereo rack with all the other components.

      I honestly don't know where I'd put one of those Shuttle cubes, but it certainly wouldn't fit in a rack. The alienware/shuttle cube looks pretty hip, but where's the joy of tinkering? the satisfaction of building it yourself?
  • is just another PC. What makes it so special? It doesn't do anything that other PCs don't do, and even the form factor is not innovative.

    Let's see... Enjoy DVDs, control live television, burn CDs, view photos, edit video, play games. Sounds like any other PC from Best Buy, no? Honestly, I will probably be modded down, but please enlighten me. Building this thing from scratch from Frys would probably be about $800 (50% the price). What am I paying for, the famous Alienware brand??? :)

    Now if this was in a slim form factor that would fit neatly in my stereo rack and work without a keyboard or mouse, that would be something. Ah if only M$ would unlock the X-box. :)

    I think Slashdot has gone beyond link ads, to selling stories to advertisers.

    • What am I paying for, the famous Alienware brand???

      Exactly right. It really doesn't matter how much cheaper you could get it other ways, there are some people who will shell out any amount of money at anything Alienware sells.

      I think Slashdot has gone beyond link ads, to selling stories to advertisers.

      This is not news. For a while now many stories have looked like little more than advertisements.
  • Xbox (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Dexter77 ( 442723 ) on Tuesday November 19, 2002 @03:58AM (#4704381)
    Xbox can do most of those features with little modifications and opensource applications:

    Control Live Television - can do with xbox
    Enjoy DVDs - can do with xbox
    Listen digital music - can do with xbox
    Burn music, photos and videos - not yet possible, but might be possible in future
    View your favorite photos - can do with xbox
    Edit digital videos - can do with xbox
    Incredible gaming performance - xbox games aren't that bad..

    Cost :
    Xbox+modifications = $400
    Navigator Mediacenter = $1699

    Which one would you choose?
  • Pr0n box (Score:1, Funny)

    by OzeBuddha ( 459435 )
    Now you can surf your porn collection on the big screen!
  • Compare [alienware.com]

    Yea right, and I can beat Stephen Hawking in the 100 yard dash.

    • Yea right, and I can beat Stephen Hawking in the 100 yard dash.

      Not if Stephen Hawking drives a rocket powered wheelchair... ;)
    • How about this:
      Cooling system: None on the media center PC? Oh come on, it at least has a fan and decent heatsink. If they're going to give us stats, then I want to see stats of a system built for the same price (and not by monkeys).

      Also, seems that their "page not found" error is slashdotted or something, it shows me the server JScript. Maybe they're running it on one of these navigators :-)
  • by Dot.Com.CEO ( 624226 ) on Tuesday November 19, 2002 @04:01AM (#4704387)
    Is not just Windows XP with a fancy interface. Other than many under the hood enhancements, Media Centre PCs have to have some kind of hardware MPEG2 recording solution. And that is why they are so expensive.

    So far, the Media Edition version of the OS is OEM only and it will stay like that for the foreseeable future. Having used it, I can say it is extremely functional and does what it says.

    So, no, you could not really build one like the Alienware PC that easily, and you most likely think you have a "media" pc. Microsoft bashing aside, if this is their v1 effort, I cannot wait to see what they will make of it in a couple of years.

    • If they last till V2.

      Most people will probably look at it and go, "Why would I need one when I can get a home entertainment centre for much cheaper". And the average Linux tard probably will be, "I'm a freak, and can spend all my free time making one like it."

      But if they cost it down a little bit then they might get more of a market share (or give one to me and i'll recommend it to everyone I know).
      • This is not for everyone, in the same sense that a 42'' plasma TV is not for everyone. I enjoy my AIW as the next person, but I cannot, for example, capture DVD quality mpegs while gaming or burning a cd. The Media edition PC can.
    • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday November 19, 2002 @04:33AM (#4704469)

      So far, the Media Edition version of the OS is OEM only and it will stay like that for the foreseeable future. Having used it, I can say it is extremely functional and does what it says.

      So, I went to an eHome presentation about these things. Basically, v1 of the stuff will not do too much more than PVR/10' UI (that is, ui designed to be operated from 10' away). The media player is spiffed up, uses directX for the ui.

      The really cool stuff will start with v2 - that is: multiple tv tuners, a non-oem only license perhaps (the problem with the first time was the hardware support - they didn't want to try to do pvr on whatever hardware, so for now they only have a few supported cards/setups), and best of all, the smaller boxes that some people say that they want, connected to the pc via a network. That way your computer becomes a media server for the entire house, powering these smaller devices. I think there were also some discussions about integrating the Xbox2 into some of these plans, but I dunno, hey, I just attended a meeting.. :)

    • There's a lot of cards which enable MPEG2 recording. The ATI ALL in wonder line has had it for a few generations IIRC. And I see no mention of any specific hardware in the Alienware box to do it. Just a regular GF4 card. (Which seems like an odd choice to me. I have a GF4 4200 card and the TV-Out is pretty bad compared to my old G400Max.)

      In conclusion, you can record MPEG2 just fine with other solutions. (Even the free MythTV.)
      • No ATI All-In-Wonder card has ever offered hardware MPEG2 or MPEG1 encoding, just software.

        And the quality sucks. You just can't get decent realtime software MPEG1/MPEG2 on the PC. You're better off recording into something lossless (huffyUV) or something high bitrate (perhaps divx at 100% quality) and converting to MPEG2 later on using CCE or TMPGEnc.
  • Where did they get the shiny black shuttle case?

    I am not going to argue the obvious 'build it yourself' threads that are going to inundate this topic. I'm also not going to argue whether those Soldam cases are more stylish (some of us don't understand what is appealing about the direction the macs are going).

    I have bought several spacewalkers, and though I'm not floored by its performance, I generally think they are ok for 'tuck-away' systems.

    Has anyone seen that ebony gloss miniitx case design for sale elsewhere?
    • With a few spray-cans of car paint, you can give your shuttle case the same look.

      Personally, I prefer the coolermaster [coolermaster.com] cases for home theater PCs: they have two 5 1/4" bays, the ability to contain up to four agp/pci cards and about the same form factor as a VCR.
  • Looks nice but ... (Score:5, Informative)

    by xerofud ( 555327 ) on Tuesday November 19, 2002 @04:07AM (#4704401)
    I want to not only be able to freely shift in time, but also be able to shift content in space between machines on my LAN. One has to wonder if this Windows XP box puts restrictions on moving content off the machine to other networked computers. TiVo certainly does, and because of the draconian lockdown these folks implemented in their series 2 version of this product (with all that cryptographic signing of the kernel nonsense, checksums for the filesystem and propietary boot firmware) I decided to return my Tivo (within the first 30 days) and brave the wild world of open source PVR products.

    Short story is that a few weeks later I successfully managed to get MythTV working (tonight in fact). Sure, it took me a while longer, but I learned a heck of a lot in the process, and it didn't cost me much more at all.

    Series 2 + lifetime subscription to programming guide:


    The non-refundable cost of shipping/return shipping:


    My new Pentium IV with Asus P4PE motheroboard (supports hyperthreading CPU, with onboard firewire, usb 2.0, serial ata, RAID, Gigabit LAN and intel8x0 5.1 surround sound -- all linux compatible) and ATI TV-Wonder (stereo version, not VE mono) for video-in and NVidia Ti4200 LeadTek for video-out (which sports Conexant Tv-out chip that is HDTV compatible unlike Philips Tv-out chip and also produces better picture quality with richer feature set)


    The satisfaction of doing it yourself ...


    So for all others out there like myself, remember there's www.mythtv.org
  • by Russellkhan ( 570824 ) on Tuesday November 19, 2002 @04:12AM (#4704420)
    ZDNet realeased an article titled Windows XP Media Center: Who needs it? Not me [zdnet.com] back when the first of the XP Media Center devices/PCs turned up: the HP Media Center PC.

    The title of the article sums it all up nicely in my book.

  • Ok, I just looked at this box and laughed. It's the Shuttle SB51g with some stuff shoved in it, totaling (if my Pricewatching is correct) just over 800 dollars. Now, perhaps the new Media Center OS is cool -- but to the tune of 1000 more??? I can't find a reason to buy this because we at Slashdot (yes, a generalisation, deal with it) can build our own boxen. And we can run Mandrake 9.0 with KDE 3 and be very happy. *Sigh* Perhaps it's the alienware t-shirt?
  • Alienware (Score:1, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward
    From my experience Alienware makes some real lemons. Their tech support is also incompetent. I would hate to buy an appliance that had the unreliability of a PC
  • Annoying Cube Case. (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward
    The main flaw i see is if i have a bunch of home theater componets this will look out of place and waste space/shelves. Why can't they make a pc case that about the size of the average dvd player? I mean where the hell will i put this cube? If i put it on a shelf it has to be alone since its about the hieght of a dvd/cd/tape player. Which means its wasting to much space! a nice wide and flat case is what i want to see... It only needs to be a max of 2U in height... it can even use the same mb as the cube and use the left over space for hd mounts and such.
  • I don't desire a crippled PC acting as an entertainment center. I want to use the hardware to it's full potential. That's why DVD player's can cost less than $60, they only use the components they need for the job.

  • Freevo (Score:5, Informative)

    by I_redwolf ( 51890 ) on Tuesday November 19, 2002 @04:47AM (#4704497) Homepage Journal

    Current Features
    * Watching TV, with TV Guide (using XMLTV).
    * Playing Movies (AVI, MPEG, etc) and DVDs.
    * Playing Music (MP3, Ogg).
    * Viewing Pictures.
    * Skins are configurable using XML files.
    * Movie and Music file info using XML files.
    * Preliminary Mame support.

    Price == the cost of hardware.

    Why exactly would I pay through the nose, ass and other body cavities for the alienware box?
  • Wow... (Score:3, Informative)

    by Spytap ( 143526 ) on Tuesday November 19, 2002 @04:48AM (#4704498)
    Wow, it's a...brick...cinderblock maybe?

    Oh, it has the Alienware name on it? We should pay more for that, right?

    You know, I owned a overpriced cube-like computer that played DVDs too, the PowerMac Cube...it looked better and didn't have that $hitty XP on it either.

    This is not a new concept people, MicroATX faactor motherboards are fairly common, and frankly, I could build the same machine for about half the price...Damn, for the extra 500 bucks it costs for them to market their name, I'll DRAW an alien head on the front of your's for you.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday November 19, 2002 @04:52AM (#4704504)
    I have an old 500Mhz Celeron box, running Slackware, and Mythtv. I can watch DivX movies, look at my pictures, rip CDs, record TV, listen to mp3s and lots more.. and it didn't cost me a cent (a local business was throwing out their old boxen). Sure, the 500Mhz box is a little low for dvd, but most of my videos are video CD anyway (they are incredibly cheap here in asia).
  • by popeydotcom ( 114724 ) on Tuesday November 19, 2002 @04:53AM (#4704507) Homepage
    (my emphasis) Navigator lets you watch DVDs from anywhere in the room, whether you're at your desk or on your living room couch.

    What? I can stand over here and watch it..? What about over here? I can't possibly watch it from over HERE can I?!
  • well, it doesnt play DVDs, but I can record DVDs to the replay's hdd, and then copy to our own computers (just MPG files)

    Ah, my NetFlix account is going to be handy!
  • by Anonymous Coward
    I am puzzled. Why the heck did I just buy a Morex Cubid 2688R [mini-itx.com] case and a Via EPIA Micro-ATX board [viavpsd.com] just to install LinVDR on it? I should really have purchased a box which doesn't even remotely look like a home video device, and use some Microsoft crap for which I have to buy an XP license.

    Am I a psycho?

  • How much noice (from fans etc) does this thing make ?

    I think its very important that new gadgets like this also is as quiet as the rest of the equipment below the tv.
  • I don't think, at this price it's anything other than a desktop PC with a remote control. I have a PC (running Linux) that does pretty much the same except for PVR (that it will soon anyway), but I don't pretend that it's a new kind of device, it's a PC that happens to be used to watch movies and TV, and this is why it has (in my case) a projection screen instead of a regular monitor, but that's it.
  • It runs a new version of XP (Media Center Edition) and displays pictures, movies and plays DVDs.

    Wow! It displays pictures! Not only that, but it plays DVD's and movies! I bet it even makes sounds!

    Gee Wizz! It does all that, which of course I can do on my two year old system, and it runs a new version of Windows that gives Bil Gates the right to disable whatever software he wants (even though you may have paid good money for it). And not only was Cyno01 willing to say "If I had the cash for it i would definitly ditch my 160Gb HD and Radeon AIW card." but /. thought this remark was worthy of front page attention!

  • freevo [sourceforge.net] is a very nice Linux equivalent. I tried it for the first time last night, and it's just gorgeous.

    I'd like to put a 'multimedia' centre in the living room, maybe using a nice small micro atx board and case.

    Problem will be crowbaring a wireless ethernet card (I'd like it to be the wireless gateway too), and a tv out video card as well...
  • Haha - Click the 'compare' tab, and you get to see
    a beautiful table showing how this compares to
    a "Competing Media Center PC". I guess there's
    exactly one of those, since numbers like '243' for
    BAPCo SysMark2002 Rating are given.

    "Whereas brand X leaves clothes faded and dirty."
  • XP (Media Center Edition) = XP (Now With Extra DRM!)
  • but has Alienware considered the fact that all those copyprotected CD's won't play in the CD-drive? What about DVD's? Do they all work as well? does the XP-Media center edition give Bill the right to make a list of all your songs and movies? I don't think I want him to know that I have the full collection of the Morgan sex project and African sex safari.
  • Taking a look at this system, I'm struck by how much they don't tell you. For example, where does the "Guide" get it's data? How much will I pay for that?

    Also, unless you go with the "Pro" version you still have the problem that when the HD is full, you then have to choose between deleting a program or not recording another. And the Pro version is as much more than the regular version as the DVD drive would cost you retail. Hmmm...

    Finally, you are looking at a solution where the upgradability is studiously not addressed. Can I add another HD and use it? Or will the DRM controls only recognize specifically configured disks?

    Basically I just don't see this as a solution.
  • is a lot of people going "Yeah, I can do that", or "My box does that"....

    And then, invariably, comes the 'except'...

    XP Media edition gives full Tivo-like functionality in a PC. I've seen one (a friend has one) and played around with it. No PC-based TV recording software comes close. Not to mention the fact that this one box ends up replacing 2 or 3 components in your A/V stack.

    So go ahead and bash XP. I don't mind that. Just make sure you're not basing out of ignorance.

  • I asked this question in the form of an article, but as with all articles I've submitted, the nameless editor rejected it without even giving a reason. So I've waited for it to become on topic for some time now.

    This box that the article links to costs a whopping $1700! For that price you could get a TIVO and lifetime subscription and have money left over to get your mom a TIVO with a lifetime subscription for Christmas (or for un-Christmas if you're a Jehovah's witness).

    Now, it seems to me you could build something with no DRM built into it for cheap. Does anyone who has experience with this want to tell me how to go about it? I really want to just build it into my existing computer, since I have my PC in the living room already.

    1). Is there a video capture card that's up to snuff?
    2). Assuming I buy a big-ass SCSI for TV to live in, could I record TV and do stuff (other than quake or NWN, I guess) at the same time? Or should I just not kid myself and build a new system? In this case, can I cheap out on the system, or do I need a high performance one like the one I've got already?
    3). Do the free internet services offer the same sort of stuff as TIVO. Anyone have experience with both?
    4). Should I just upgrade to digital cable and get the free DVR that comes with that now (here in Austin with Time Warner)

    Anyway, there are so many factors to consider I'd really like some feedback on this from those of you who have experience in the matter.
  • Anyone notice how the remote looks vaguely similar to the Philips TiVo remotes (at least the HDR112/212/etc series)? Peanut shape, numberpad at the bottom, logo button, etc?
  • Pretty pointless... (Score:3, Informative)

    by CommieLib ( 468883 ) on Tuesday November 19, 2002 @12:17PM (#4706983) Homepage
    This device would serve one purpose and one only: PVR. No one willing to shell out 1700 bucks for a media computer is going to settle for non-progressive scan DVD, for the first thing.

    Secondly, mp3, photos, etc., are what my computer is for. I already have that capability.

    Games? If you have a big screen TV, I guess. I also second the post about the shape and size of this thing; why make it so radically different than every other AV component I have? The old desktop shape is more the proper shape than a cube.

    I still don't understand why I can't just shell out $350 for a device that does nothing but record TV. I want a digital VCR, that's all.
  • by cmay666 ( 202732 )
    I have no idea why the poster would want to 'return my Radeon AIW card'. What the linked page doesn't mention, and what people need to consider, is the capacity for ANY PVR/PC card to have hardware mpeg decoding and encoding. I believe the ATI All in Wonder 9700 Pro has SOME hardware support, accounting for 10-20% performance "boost" (i.e. less resources used), but I don't believe there are any other cards on the market with this feature. Hauupauge is scheduled to roll one out in the future (the PVR-350 I think?). Also, another feature that the ATI card has that this doesn't is support for a second tuner, letting you watch one show while recording another, or pic-in-pic. And all the great software bundled with their AIW. So why exactly is the Media Center betteR?
    • Sorry, but you're wrong. No ATI All-In-Wonder card supports MPEG1 or MPEG2 hardware encoding. It's all software driven (licensed from Ligos) And it's filth.

      There are a few hardware MPEG2 encoder/decoder's out there that are PVR's. A few that come to mind are:

      * Sigma Designs REALMagic DVR -- My personal favorite, has had the best quality so far, both at low bitrates and high.

      * Hauppauge WinTV PVR -- It's decent quality for those on a budget. Encodes high-bitrate MPEG2 like a charm.

      A webpage detailing and reviewing a ton of MPEG1/MPEG2 encoders (both hardware and software) can be found here [tangentsoft.net].

  • An old one but still relevant:

    http://www.theonion.com/onion3308/realtimetv.htm l

Any program which runs right is obsolete.