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View Full Version : Apple TV vs. Vista MC




maxxscholten
Jun 23, 2008, 05:44 PM
I know I'm going to get flamed for this, and I expect it. The other day I was at my buddies new flat, and he and I have always been Apple fans, and love the products that Apple put out. However, when I was at his place I noticed that he had set up an HP Elite (I think) series PC to his nice Panasonic Viera 42" Plasma.

The computer has a sweet video card which includes an HDMI out which is how he hooks it up to the TV. The display is amazing. I know Apple TV has an HDMI output, but it's so much limited compared to a PC. Not only that, but personally I think the Vista Media Center is far nicer to look at and operate than the Apple TV interface.

Not only is he getting a killer interface from Vista Media Center, but also an entire computer -- he uses it record shows in HD, and also as a badass 42" monitor. He controls it all with one of these (http://www.logitech.com/index.cfm/products/details/US/EN,CRID=2166,CONTENTID=10717) which is really awesome.



Does anyone else think that for the price, Apple TV is weak compared to what you could do with a slightly more expensive PC with Windows Vista? You could even buy a cheaper PC and buy an HDMI video card (which I've seen go for about $70)



AndyK
Jun 23, 2008, 06:17 PM
Does anyone else think that for the price, Apple TV is weak compared to what you could do with a slightly more expensive PC with Windows Vista?

Yes. To put it bluntly. It's probably one of the very few things Windows do better than a mac.

NT1440
Jun 23, 2008, 06:19 PM
hmmm, a computer vs a standalone player.....


it really comes down to what you want to use them for i guess:apple:

diabolic
Jun 23, 2008, 06:50 PM
I've actually got both running in our living room. I've got a library of my DVDs on Vista Media Center and it's nice for that, but for anything else, Media Center thwarts your best efforts at every turn. I spent a long time attempting to make it my main source for TV and it just falls short in so many ways. Trying to get it to record anything other than non-protected OTA TV channels is a nightmare. So it isn't really great for that. Cablecard seemed promising, but in reality it hardly works with any cable providers.

Apple TV does what I expect and iTunes for rentals and purchases is far better than anything else I have used.

I like the Apple TV interface quite a bit better, and I'm not sold on the "computer from the couch" experience. Sitting and browsing the web with my wireless keyboard on the PC isn't that great, even on a 65" screen.

Kurfer
Jun 23, 2008, 07:32 PM
Personally, I went the exact opposite route. I had a Vista media center and I hate it with a passion. The menu is ugly, the display is clunky and it's very expensive. I wanted a simple/effective little appliance I can throw in my theater room.

I am slowly but surely ridding myself of windows/microsoft completely.

omni
Jun 23, 2008, 09:11 PM
Not only is he getting a killer interface from Vista Media Center, but also an entire computer -- he uses it record shows in HD, and also as a badass 42" monitor. He controls it all with one of these (http://www.logitech.com/index.cfm/products/details/US/EN,CRID=2166,CONTENTID=10717) which is really awesome.


Not saying which one is better but I just find it funny that the keyboard you linked to is $200 and an appleTV is $229.

I've never seen VMC - I installed Vista and had to uninstall it a long time ago but I'd rather take $229 and a quiet as can be solution over having a computer let alone a keyboard laying around my living room.

But I'm glad to see there are multiple options because people want different things.

powderblue17
Jun 23, 2008, 09:27 PM
I run Vista Media Center on the PC in my room with one video output going to my TV for media center and the other to my monitor so I can still use it as a normal computer. I enjoy it but if you think Apple should ever introduce something like this then your crazy. It would be impossible to support as there are so many different possible configurations with cable, satellite, and ota that even Microsoft can't support all the possible configurations especially when you go outside the US. The only reason I got it to work well is because I'm a pretty technical person and those types are really the only ones who use media center. There is no way an average person could ever get something like this to work and no way Apple would be able to support something that complicated. The beauty of AppleTV is that pretty much anyone can hook it up and use it without to much hassle and adding the tv options would just complicate the device beyond most people's grasp. Plus nowadays most people just get a box from their service provider that they know will work and won't have to mess with.

maxxscholten
Jun 23, 2008, 11:57 PM
Great responses guys (and/or girls) and you all provided some awesome feedback.

As far as that keyboard goes... he got it off of ebay for about $70 (and they go for that price on average) which is about the price of an apple wireless keyboard.

In the end I do suppose it comes down to:

Price you're willing to pay for a media device
What you want that media device to do (extensive PC work such as an internet browser, games, etc. or simple things like music, movies, videos
How simple you want the media device to be. Apple TV is extremely simple to set up, while hooking up a PC might take a bit more work
Space. Some people prefer to sleek, simple, and small look of Apple TV, and think that putting a PC next to a TV stand would look tacky
And of course, personal preference

For me, I'd prefer shelling out a few hundred dollars more and getting a machine that runs Vista Media Center. Personally I prefer the interface and I think that it runs really well and looks great. However, I said that I'd PREFER to pay for a PC, however I am not ABLE to buy one -- I'll see how things play out :o. I also like the idea of having a computer and using my TV as a big monitor -- not for all things, but for a few like playing Counter-Strike on a big ass monitor!

Please continue to say which you prefer!

jaw04005
Jun 24, 2008, 12:11 AM
Speaking of Vista's Media Center, you should take the time to use the interface extensively.

If you did, you would find out that the Vista interface is only half-done, as Microsoft's Media Center team could not finish VMC before Vista was released.

They were forced to ship a half-baked Vista/XP Media Center hybrid.

Additionally, Microsoft pulled the team off Vista Media Center after the Vista launch to work on the Zune software for an entire year. Currently, the next update of Media Center "Fiji" is in selective testing. It's supposed to add h.264 support, stability and performance improvements and include the remaining finished menus.

mpshay
Jun 24, 2008, 07:27 AM
I used XP media center for a while before switching to Vista MC for about 6 months. I really wanted to like it, but in the end I finally gave up. However instead of going with an apple TV I went with a Mac Mini. I found it to be an almost perfect solution for what I wanted to do. I was not using Vista to record TV shows (have 3 Tivos for that) so the only feature I lost when I went with the Mini was the ability to watch Netflix streaming movie & TV shows. Vista had a great plugin for that, but with the introduction of the Roku box I can once again stream netflix titles. The only drawback is one more box in the entertainment system, but at least it's pretty small.

Overall, I'm pretty happy with the Mini based system and it's easy enough to use that my wife has no problem with it and my 4 yr old daughter almost has it mastered!

diabolic
Jun 24, 2008, 09:56 AM
I used XP media center for a while before switching to Vista MC for about 6 months. I really wanted to like it, but in the end I finally gave up.

This is what I hear from a lot of people, and it mirrors my experience. For me, it was always barely falling short of what I needed it to do. There are a lot of frustrations with Vista Media Center, as there were with XP Media Center.

jb60606
Jun 24, 2008, 01:02 PM
I love VMC - I built one from the ground up so I could select my own storage, processor, video, etc, but I hear the HP media center is very desirable. With my VMC, there are no restrictions on what I can record, so I don't know what that's all about.

Movies I can't find on ATV, I rent from Movielink or Cinemanow on VMC, though I prefer to rent from Apple for better consolidation and because of Movielink & Cinemanow's unpredictable and sometimes outrageous prices for movie purchases. BTW, this may be because Movielink and Cinema now are owned by the price gouging movie studios themselves.

Full of Win
Jun 24, 2008, 01:40 PM
Lets throw out some more lame comparisons...

Corvette vs. Mustang
Mac Pro vs. Mac Mini
Wacom Cintiq vs. Wacom Intuos

The two platforms are so utterly different that they are simply not comparable.

If I still watched TV, I'd go with both - a Windows machine in the utility room, with its loud fan and all - and a quiet AppleTV to stream media from the Server to the TV.

jb60606
Jun 24, 2008, 02:07 PM
Lets throw out some more lame comparisons...

Corvette vs. Mustang
Mac Pro vs. Mac Mini
Wacom Cintiq vs. Wacom Intuos

The two platforms are so utterly different that they are simply not comparable.

If I still watched TV, I'd go with both - a Windows machine in the utility room, with its loud fan and all - and a quiet AppleTV to stream media from the Server to the TV.

...and not all PCs have "loud fans". I have mine right next to my TV, and my workstations right next to my Mac. I can't hear either of them.

Eidorian
Jun 24, 2008, 02:11 PM
Vista Media Center is great for OTA digital and HD signals. I haven't even tried to play around with it on cable or satellite.

AppleTV is more of a media extender into the living room then a HTPC solution. It depends if you're more interested in renting or recording TV.

meglet
Jun 24, 2008, 02:58 PM
I have both a Vista HTPC and an AppleTV running. I use the HTPC almost every day, and the aTV maybe once a week for watching videos, and a few days a week for streaming music. Between the two, they are my only devices for TV and movie watching.

For movies, and HDTV, I prefer the HTPC. I don't mind the interface, it's just a few clicks on the remote to get anywhere. I also use the HTPC to play back videos downloaded from Amazon Unbox, they have some shows that aren't in iTunes anymore (NBC, I'm looking at you!) The other nice thing about my (custom-built) HTPC is the expandability. I've recently added HD-DVD and Blu-ray support for a relatively low cost, without having to add another device to the entertainment center.

For streaming music from iTunes, and TV shows from the iTunes store, the AppleTV is good. I actually don't like the new interface setup with 2.0, though. It's a little too store-centric. Plus, last time I checked I was still having HDMI interface issues, which required rebooting the aTV once a week when I wanted to use it. I haven't even woken it up in a few weeks, except to stream music. It will get more use when the summer TV shows start, since the iTunes season passes are easier to manage than Unbox. Plus, I think the iTunes TV shows have a little bit better quality than Unbox, although the Unbox shows are perfectly watchable.

risc
Jun 24, 2008, 03:16 PM
I've been using Vista Media Center with my main HDTV for months now (hell probably over a year). I'd never consider buying an Apple TV. Well maybe I would if Apple released an Apple TV that could record TV, play any video format, had access to hulu.com, could play DVDs for any region, could do radio, oh the list goes on and on.

VMC >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>> ATV.

Full of Win
Jun 24, 2008, 09:07 PM
...and not all PCs have "loud fans". I have mine right next to my TV, and my workstations right next to my Mac. I can't hear either of them.

Not all - but many. Also, the sound increases when the CPU is under a higher strain, such as encoding.

jb60606
Jun 25, 2008, 08:29 AM
Not all - but many. Also, the sound increases when the CPU is under a higher strain, such as encoding.

Yeah - that's why I prefer to build my own. Some PC manufacturers are starting to take the problem more seriously (especially for Media centers), and are applying their own cooling soultion in place of the chinsey crap provided/approved by Intel.

If you buy a MPC pre-built, stay away from the inexpensive models. Nothing cuts more corners like a cheap PC.