Microsoft Media Center better than AppleTV?

Discussion in 'Apple, Inc and Tech Industry' started by hondak24, Oct 31, 2008.

  1. hondak24 macrumors newbie

    Dec 16, 2006
  2. mpshay macrumors 6502

    May 19, 2008
    I switched from media center to apple TV a few months ago. For me it was the right choice. I use Tivo so the loss of the DVR capability was a non-issue. The simplicty and ease of operation more than made up for it.

    As far as not going the Net Flix DVD subscription route goes, I'm not sure what they are saying. If he is proposing an all you eat streaming service then that is comming to the Mac. On the other hand, if he is talking about ripping DVDs to the harddrive and then playing them in Vista Media Center, well you can do the same illegal activity with ATV (just takes another step)
  3. chewietobbacca macrumors 6502

    Jun 18, 2007
    ATV has its perks, but as someone who has built a home theater PC for entertainment, MMC is the way to go. The ability to share with a 360 on the network as well is a perk as wil the new updates
  4. Abstract macrumors Penryn


    Dec 27, 2002
    Location Location Location
    AppleTV isn't useless and crappy. It's far from it, and you'd enjoy it if you use it. However, looking at the alternatives, and comparing AppleTV to other hardware rather than your needs, it would be hard to justify buying an AppleTV when better devices are out there.

    They could have at least included a DVD player, or better yet, a DVD ripper that would rip the DVD, and send the movie back to your computer automagically. There are just so many things that could have been gained by including one.

    Unfortunately, Apple is pretty Nazi-ish about what they "allow" users to do with their hardware. They're a bit like a government: If they can't control it and then tax you for it, they won't legalize it.
  5. benthewraith macrumors 68040


    May 27, 2006
    Miami, FL
    I wouldn't mind a DVR function built into the Apple TV, to allow me to save television content and transfer it to my laptop.
  6. Chaszmyr macrumors 601


    Aug 9, 2002
    There are other alternatives out there that do things the AppleTV doesn't, but the AppleTV is everything I want: It's small, quiet, streams Apple Lossless and h.264, and thanks to the new(ish) iPhone Remote app, I can easily navigate my large library.

    For me, AppleTV is as at least as good as anything on the market. (Though I have thought about getting rid of my AppleTV in favor of a Mac mini... but the mini's lack of 802.11n is holding me back)
  7. hexonxonx macrumors 601

    Jul 4, 2007
    Denver Colorado
    I think allot more people would choose Apple TV if it didn't require an HDTV. I don't plan on buying an HDTV for quite some time yet so an Apple TV is not a choice here. I didn't connect my Windows Multi Media laptop to my TV much either though it did work and videos played ok on it, it was just inconvenient to connect and disconnect.

    For now, my Mac Pro wins with it's 23" ACD and HD shows from iTunes.
  8. jaw04005 macrumors 601


    Aug 19, 2003
    Like Apple TV, Media Center is more of a "potential" than an actual success. It can run on a variety of hardware, has a nice interface, supports TV recording and is customizable with plug-ins and additional codecs. However, it lacks the ease of use of Apple TV and of course the purchasable content of the iTunes Store.

    Some Media Center History ...

    I was an early advocate of Media Center. I even purchased a Media Center PC just to get it once they were released, as it was originally only sold on defined hardware.

    With that said, Media Center has three major problems---it's overly complicated, requires a full blown PC to fully experience and is neglected by Microsoft whenever convenient.

    Media Center's multitude of content input options and modular design is intriguing, but in reality it can confuse the masses. For example, Microsoft released survey research on Media Center that said most people don't use the DVR capabilities of the program. This is likely due to the fact that your computer has to have a tuner device, must be stationary and connect or interact with your over-the-air antenna, analog cable, digital cable (via CableCard-ready PCs only) or satellite (using IR blasters).

    Unfortunately, there's not much Microsoft can do to simplify the TV recording process, as each individual's needs vary. It was designed as a platform and it's capabilities are too dependent on third-party's (codec makers, computer manufacturers, content service providers).

    Media Center is a process intensive application. It requires serious hardware to playback videos and record TV. Who wants a full-blown PC next to their TV? No one. Microsoft tried to broaden Media Center's appeal by launching Media Center Extender devices. However, the few Media Centers Extenders that are available are underpowered (excluding the XBOX 360) and overpriced ($350+). Not to mention, they cannot operate without your Windows PC being on, as they're just fancy "Remote Desktop" boxes.

    The original Media Center Extenders (except the XBOX 360) are not compatible with Windows Media Center Vista. Both the original and current line of Media Center Extenders (except the XBOX 360) have not sold well.

    Additionally, Microsoft launched Portable Media Center devices that allowed your computer to transcode recorded TV shows and subscription content for on-the-go playback. However, these again failed to gain traction in the market.

    Finally, Microsoft starts and stops Media Center development when convenient. Media Center started off receiving major updates at least every two years (2002, 2004, 2005 and 2006*). However, after Vista's release they pulled members off the WMC team to work on the XBOX 360, Zune and Windows Home Server. This at a time when Vista Media Center was released half-baked with missing "new style" sub-menus, lack of promised codec support, DirecTV tuner support and unstable recording.

    This past summer, Microsoft introduced some of these missing features into what was described to Beta testers as a "roll-up" update code-named "Fiji". However, that update was rebranded as "Windows Media Center TV Pack 2008" and released only to OEMs (without h.264 support). It was never released to the general public.

    After the release of Zune 3.0 and Windows Home Server, they've finally got most of the team back and are currently working on Windows 7's Media Center. We will have to wait and see if Microsoft turns it into a success or if Windows Media Center 7 repeats it's predecessor's past mistakes.

    * Windows Media Center 2005 was released as a free update to 2004 users and added HD support; Windows Media Center Vista was declared "gold" in 2006, yet didn't publicly ship until January 2007
  9. awr macrumors member

    Sep 25, 2007
    Just wanted to throw his out there: over the weekend, i picked up one of these: -purely out of curiosity.

    It's a nice little machine that takes media from almost any USB hard drive it and plays it on your TV (standard or HD)

    It was a great solution for upsatirs, as we have an old SD TV.

    The GUI is very primative, it doesn't play over a network, but it does what it is supposed to do well.

    just thought i would mention this for those of you that have said Apple TV doesn't suit your needs for one reason or another - look into this, it may be a nice pickup.
  10. Tilpots macrumors 601


    Apr 19, 2006
    Carolina Beach, NC
    Strange comparison, but work with me, K?

    :apple:TV is like a toaster oven. It does exactly what it is supposed to do. Problem is, most people want a full blown oven, complete with range and microwave. Toaster oven's are great for their intended purpose, but they can't cook most people a proper meal all by themselves.
  11. patrick0brien macrumors 68040


    Oct 24, 2002
    The West Loop
  12. danny_w macrumors 601

    Mar 8, 2005
    Austin, TX
    I also have a "standard" 4:3 tv (Hitachi Ultravision 50") which has component inputs but no widescreen mode. I finally restored my :apple:TV to 1.0 and used displayconfig to add a 4:3 setting. It now works perfectly with my standard-def tv, and I am ripping movies for it night and day. I just got tired of waiting for Apple to add 4:3 support (I don't think they ever will at this point). Now I not only can use it for music but also for movies, and I'm lovin' it. I just wish it had some method of sorting movies instead of dumping everything into a flat list, but other than that it works great.
  13. ugacdawg macrumors newbie

    Dec 29, 2008
    Hmm, you know for a long time I was a media center bigot... and I tried everything to make it work... but I had to run a full-blown PC at every TV in order to network my media... and they required WAAAAY too much troubleshooting... I need it to work for my wife and my kids...

    Now I have three 40GB AppleTV units that stream 720p and non-HD movies (over 300 in the library now) in H264 format to all three HDTV units in the house over a 5Ghz N-network and it's completely flawless...

    I use an old XP P4 in my basement connected to my cable with an old analog card running iTunes 24x7 as the media server. It also runs Orb, hence the value of the card and having all the media in one place...

    I have picked up all the ATV units in the original boxes in mint condition for under $160 each... they are tiny, quiet and never crash...

    I would like to have DVR capability but as soon as I can get a real-time hardware H264 solution I'll just add that to the media server in the basement and I'll have the ability to watch DVR TV from any of the AppleTVs...

    For me it could not have been a cleaner, more elegant solution, thanks Apple.

    PS. Controlling it all from my iPhone via remote is sweet icing on the cake...
  14. wizzracer macrumors 6502


    Sep 17, 2007
    Dallas, Texas
    You don't need a HDTV just use a converter box.

    As it was said somewhere else in here. One more step and you get the whole cookie:cool:
  15. Yamcha macrumors 68000

    Mar 6, 2008
    I've used both Media Center, and Frontrow. Honestly if you try Media Center you will like it much better, they did a really good job with it. There are a lot more features, also easier to search.. I think Apple should work on improving frontrow..
  16. yoyo5280 macrumors 68000


    Feb 24, 2007
    Melbourne, Australia & Bay Area
    Apple tv works fine for me.
    Beyond fine.

    Seriously, set up was easy as plug and go. I don't watch TV much but if I want to just press buy and a wait a second. THen watch. simple.

    The ability to rent movies is AMAZING.

    Podcasts at my fingertips is actually better than normal TV

    and most of all music. The iTunes sync is important.

    Apple TVs interface is sleek too.

    MMC might be crowded with good features, but I just want simple in this case.
  17. netdog macrumors 603


    Feb 6, 2006
    When I bought an Apple TV, I disconnected my satellite and now get almost all of my TV (shows and movies) from Apple (with the occasional viewing of BBC). As a result, I spend a lot less on TV per month and watch what I want when I want.

    As someone very happy with the iTunes Store offerings, Apple TV is far superior for my needs vis-a-vis Windows Media Center.
  18. talkingfuture macrumors 65816


    Dec 4, 2008
    The back of beyond.
    I get the impression that :apple:TV would be perfect if you only buy shows from iTunes. To make it perfect for the rest of us I would like it to play any video file and DVD's. Or, Apple could make it as easy to rip DVD's as it is to rip CD's. I don't think the studios would be very supportive of that though.
  19. netdog macrumors 603


    Feb 6, 2006
    Thanks to Boxee (free), I have ripped all of my DVDs using Mac The Ripper without compression (beyond that inherent in the original MPEG2s) and play those DVD images across my network from a remote NAS. Buggy at the moment, but that is soon to change. In the interim, I have relieved myself of all of my DVD clutter. They're just files now.
  20. danny_w macrumors 601

    Mar 8, 2005
    Austin, TX
    You don't need an HDTV per se, but you do need a widescreen tv (or a widescreen setting on your tv). I have my :apple:TV connected via component video to my analog 4:3 50" projection tv, and had to revert to v1.0 firmware and use displayutil to hack it for 4:3 mode. I understand that you can use Boxee or XBMC under v2.x firmware too, but I haven't tried them yet.
  21. macaronie macrumors member


    Jan 10, 2009
    imo appletv is great for music/music streaming if u have a large itunes library and lots of playlists and u just want to sit on the couch where ur stereo/5.1etc set up is and just listen. =) o yes and podcasts. its one of the cleaner interfaces out there and can also cut down ur bills if u have this free content. i dont recommend it so much for video, i run boxee now or watch youtube on my laptop but thats mainly because i dont want to catalogue and save movies, it takes long and its a lot of energy for me.

    however if u want to maintain a dvd collection and ur committed to ripping them, then it may be the perfect solution. or if ur a true lover of film.

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