With the launch of Microsoft’s latest iteration of Media Center Edition and Intel’s digital home initiative it is clear that both Microsoft and Intel are trying to push the PC firmly into the living room. To be honest we feel that Media Center Edition 2005 isn’t quite ready for prime time yet, as we explained earlier
; it simply has too many flaws and shortcomings to be competitive with other consumer electronics, CE, devices. And we’re not letting Intel off the hook easily either; their processors run far too hot
to be used in a small form factor case whilst keeping them whisper quiet. We’ve recently been trying to construct a small form factor PC which would fit in nicely with your other A/V equipment, but we run into the same problem every time; we cannot seem to keep things quiet. We contacted Intel about this and they suggested we try a different case vendor, which surprised us as the case we’ve been using is listed on their website as a tested thermally advantaged chassis, but maybe only btx will be able to offer a solution
. Obviously it works, that’s not the problem; whether you’d like to use it as such, when, judging by the noise production, it could be closely related to a dustbuster is another thing though.
Other manufacturers are also hard at work to bring features to the PC that will help migrate it from the back room to the living room. Take NVIDIA for example, they’ve recently been making quite an effort to bring the quality of their video output up to CE. Consumer Electronics, level. The feature they introduced today is called PureVideo and encompasses a whole slew of innovations all meant to bring you the best possible image quality. If you’ve read our brief Windows XP Media Center Edition 2005 evaluation
, you’ll see that our major complaint is about image quality, simply because of that fact that if the PC wants to gain foothold in the living room, image quality should be on-par, or better, than CE devices. NVIDIA has acknowledged this with their PureVideo feature, which will be available on all GeForce 6-series graphic cards, and offers progressive scan de-interlacing, 3:2 pull-down correction and video scaling to name a few key features. This means that a PC equipped with a GeForce 6-series videocard is able to offer video output that rivals that of CE devices with dedicated video processors to handle these tasks.
I’m quite confident that PCs will move into the living room at some point, and many manufacturers are making an effort to offer features that will make the transistion more smoothly and less problematic for the in-experienced user. Microsoft’s Windows XP Media Center Edition 2005 for example is a step in the right direction but has quite a few shortcomings, and I’m not just talking about image quality. Processors and graphic cards are the next hurdle, you can’t have a 5000-rpm fan whirring inside a small box to keep things cool and a graphic card should offer no-compromise video output, indistinquishable from other CE devices. With PureVideo NVIDIA certainly made a step in the right direction, we’ll revisit PureVideo soon when we finally have that small form factor PC up and running and can start evaluating it as a living room PC. What is important to remember though is that a PC can only be successful in the living room if it offers features and image quality on par, or better, than other CE devices, and is intuitive to control and set up. These are the basic requirements so even the average Joe or the computer illiterate, which represent a huge number of prospective customers, can set it up and use it much like they use their VCR or TV today.