5 Alternatives to Cable and Satellite Television

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Cut your monthly entertainment bill by getting your fill of movies and television shows from streaming media players or an HD antenna. Here are five excellent alternatives to your pricey cable or satellite television subscription.

HD Antenna

An HDTV antenna gives you access to the free broadcast channels in your area, so you can watch them on your digital TV. Choose from a wide selection of HD antennae, from indoor types to bulky roof-mounted ones. Prices vary according to antenna type and model. Refer to TVFool.com for the channels that are available in your location. It also gives you the antenna direction for which to capture the available broadcast channels that you want to watch.

Roku

You don’t have to scrimp on the number of broadcast channels when you finally cut ties with your cable or satellite television carrier. The popular Roku streaming video device gives you access to over 750 broadcast channels. Roku’s streaming stick is priced at $49.99. The streaming media player’s most recent incarnation, Roku 3, is equipped with expandable memory and allows for Ethernet connection. Roku 3 costs $99.99.

Chromecast

Google’s $35 streaming media device can be plugged into the HDMI port of your computer monitor or TV. Chromecast streams a full 1080p display and works with many devices such as PCs and Macs, as well as mobile devices powered by Android and iOS. When you connect the Chrome OS version of Chromecast to your home Wi-Fi network or your TV, you can watch media content through your mobile device on any available HDMI TV.

ASUS Cube with Google TV

Priced at $111.99, the ASUS Cube is a good investment for your cable-free entertainment needs. If you already own or favor Google TV, then the sleek, futuristic-looking ASUS Cube makes for a sensible complement to your multimedia viewing routine. Giving you access to media content on multiple devices, ASUS Cube comes with a custom user interface with a handy voice-enabled search functionality, as well as 50GB of file storage on the Web plus a two-sided universal remote with motion sensors and a microphone.

Apple TV

If you are an Apple fanatic or an avid user of iTunes, you might want to look at Apple TV as a viable alternative for streaming media content. For a price tag of $99, Apple TV streams multimedia content from popular outlets such as HBO Go, Hulu, and Netflix. And with AirPlay Mirroring on your Apple TV, you can simultaneously stream Web-based video on your iOS device.

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Western Digital TV Live Review

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In this article I’ll be discussing the Western Digital TV Live, which is a media player that connects to your HD TV and allows you to play HD content in either 720p or 1080p resolutions.

The first thing you’ll notice about the WD TV Live is its size, it’s tiny. You wouldn’t think such a small device could pack such a big punch, but it does. The player comes with a remote control, and its necessary batteries, and also its power adapter. Unfortunately a HD cable isn’t provided, so you’ll have to source this elsewhere.

Once you’ve connected the device, and turned it on, you’ll notice a baby blue light on the front of the player to signify that it’s on. When you change your TV’s channel to the player’s channel, you’ll then notice the WD TV Live’s boot up screen. This is displayed for roughly a few seconds, and it then changes to the main menu, where you can choose from a host of options which include, video, music, photos and settings. The setting’s option allows you to customise your player experience, allowing you to change how files and folder are displayed, how and if your WD TV will connect to a network, the language selection etc. Selecting the music option takes you to the music menu, which allows you to open up files and folders which host any music files. The photo’s option takes you to the photo’s screen, and the video screen likewise.

You can connect your media to the WD TV Live player in a variety of ways, ranging from a USB stick which physically plugs into either or both of the media players USB ports, an external hard drive which connects to the media player via a USB cable, or a network connection. A network connection allows you to connect your WD   TV  live  media  player to your network, and stream any music and videos in real time. This is how mine is currently setup, and it works faultlessly, no skipping, pausing, just a smooth playback. I’ve also tested playing videos and music via a USB stick or an external hard drive, and this also worked perfectly. There is also the option of connecting the device to your network via a wireless USB stick, but only some USB sticks are compatible, so you’ll need to have a look at the product’s home page on the manufacturer’s website to ensure it’ll work correctly.

HD movies are displayed beautifully on the WD  TV  live  media  player, and you have a range of options during playback. You can choose whether to display the films built in subtitles, and if so, what language. You can pause the film at any moment, fast forward or rewind in single mode, x2, x4, x8 or x16, and you also have the option of skipping forwards or backwards in 10 minute intervals.

The WD  TV   media  player is a fantastic device which has worked faultlessly for me in my 6 months of ownership. It’s a perfect device for those who wish to add to their home theatre, and due to its size and slick appearance, it’s sure to look the part as well.

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Lessons Learned From A TV Appearance

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Since launching my first book Apprentice to Business ACE, I have been consistently profiled in the media. It’s been a fantastic vehicle to raise my profile, enhance my credibility and build my brand. Just recently I was invited on to Sky Business News and had the opportunity to answer viewer’s questions on branding and PR for small business. So I would like to share some lessons I learned from my TV appearance.

You Know Your stuff

TV hosts and producers don’t want to give you too much information about the questions. Why? Because they don’t want you to sound stilted and rehearsed when you give answers. You are generally there because you are the expert (or say you are) on that particular subject and because you do know your subject better than anyone else you will be able to answer questions spontaneously.

But you should think about some possible questions they may ask and prepare answers beforehand. Ask your partner or a friend to ask you a few questions and have a rehearsal ‘ practice. You can find out what angle are they taking? What are they expecting from you ‘ what are the question areas?

Research

Watch the program beforehand to get a feel for the type of show it is if you can. At least look up the website and perhaps view a video clip or listen to a podcast. Find out as much as you can about the program on which you’re being asked to appear ‘ is it live or pre-recorded? Is the audience completely general, or is it targeted at housewives or business people? Think about the points you could make which are most interesting, useful and relevant to that particular audience.

Arrive early so you can meet and chat with other guests, hosts, producers to feel a bit more comfortable and familiarise yourself with the surroundings.

Get to the Point

Do try and get to the main point of your answer quickly without wafting on. A short, sharp, interesting point works best in the media especially for television and will be easier for viewers to remember. If you don’t give enough information the interviewer will simply ask a follow-up question.

If you have something to promote (such as a book) keep it in mind and look for an opportunity to get your point across. All well and good being great media “talent” but you could use the opportunity to at least promote your business name. Try and be in control and use every opportunity to get your message across.

Have Something to Say

Be aware of the latest news, gossip or current affairs stories particularly that relate to your topic. Read the papers, listen to radio and be as informed as you can because you never know what might come up during the interview. If there are controversial issues in your area of expertise, work out where you stand, and what you should say. It is better to respond rather than say “no comment”. Don’t be afraid to put your point of view across. If you don’t know the answer, say so.

Make It Interesting and Descriptive

Make your answers more memorable by using real stories and descriptive words. Cut through the clutter with words that paint a picture in the mind of the listener. As an example in a radio interview I did, I told a story about a young journalist interviewing a well know media personality and used the word “hyper-bowl”, the media identity kindly corrected her and said the word is pronounced “hyper-bo-lee”. We made it a fun, interesting reference to the issue being discussed.

Friendly and Attentive

Remember that what you’re really doing is having a conversation. Listen to the interviewer’s questions. The host will appreciate your attentiveness. Use the interviewer’s name to make it more personable when answering questions.

If you’re doing an interview face-to-face use eye contact and try and interest the interviewer in what you’re talking about rather than thinking ‘ do I sound OK ‘ do I look alright on TV. If your eyes flicker around during a TV interview, you look uncomfortable, and possibly a bit shifty. If you keep your eye-line focused on the interviewer, you will come over as being in command of your subject. Just try and relax and take your time. And remember to smile, you will look and sound a lot friendlier.

Animation and Gestures

Be bright and buoyant in your answers. You need to be slightly more animated and larger than life. Pep up your delivery so that it is energetic and enthusiastic, rather than dull and low-key. Television is entertainment after all and broadcasting is a performance! The more engaging you appear the more interested and involved the audience will feel. It’s perfectly okay to move, rather than sitting stiffly and looking unnatural. Just be aware of exaggerated movements or unconscious movements such as flicking your hair or tapping your fingers. If you always ‘talk’ with your hands, like I do, that’s okay; just don’t over do it. Also be aware of knocking your microphone, movement or other sounds that may interfere. Look & Sound Good

Always take time to warm up your voice. You will come across as more articulate and authoritative. It will help prevent a “frog in the throat” during the interview. Sip room temperature water before and during the interview. Never drink anything too hot or cold and nothing with milk in it otherwise you’ll be constantly clearing your throat.

Dress well and look your best.

Take your cue from the presenters on the show you’re appearing on. Perhaps it’s business casual for a morning show or more business corporate for a news show. Wear make-up. OK guys maybe just a touch of powder to eliminate shine.

If you stumble, or slip-up, or use the wrong persons name like I did during my interview, just forget about it and move on. Even top TV presenters make mistakes.

Did I manage all of the above in my interview? Probably not. But the key is to relax and enjoy the interview as much as possible ‘ after all it is your opportunity to promote your business, product or service and hopefully raise your profile and profits.

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How to Set Up the Multi-Media TV

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This article will explain how to connect your PC to a Big Screen TV, and experience the ultimate in HD picture and HD sound, using the existing PC outputs. The set up is actually very simple, and will most likely only require an additional minimal purchase of an HDMI cable to connect the PC to the TV. The HDMI (High Definition Modular Interface) cable will carry both HD sound and picture to your TV.

Before you begin, you will need to verify that the Motherboard on your PC has an outlet to plug in a second display. Most of the newer motherboards contain both VGA and HDMI outputs on the same board. You will also need to verify that your TV has an HDMI input.

To complete the installation, first install (1) end of the HDMI cable into the HDMI output on the back of the PC. Plug the other end of the HDMI cable into the HDMI Input on the big screen TV. Then, configure your PC for using dual monitors. To configure your PC using the MS -Vista O.S., Click on the Vista Start Logo, Click on Control Panel. Click on Personalization, Click on Adjust screen resolution. You should now see the Display Settings window with the existing computer monitor (labeled 1), and a second smaller monitor (labeled 2).

Located immediately below the monitor icons, you will see the drop-down selector box with both monitors listed. By default the number (2) monitor will be the Big Screen TV. Immediately below the selector, check the (2) boxes, This is my main monitor, and extend the desktop on to this monitor. Click OK and Close the window.

Now for an example, resize your I.E. browser window, so it is about half the size of your computer screen. Grab the top of the browser window, and drag it over to the other monitor. After dragging the window, you should now see the I.E. browser window open on your other screen(TV). Now the fun part! Go to one the new free movie sites like Hulu, and now you can watch the show on your big screen TV courtesy of your PC.

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Media Server – 5 Simple Steps to Convert Your Old PC Into a Media Streamer

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Yesterday while hanging out in my attic among all the old stuff I come across my old PC. This computer has been laying there for the last for at least a couple years. Thinking of discarding it properly I started searching for articles on disposal on the internet. While searching for couple of minutes I found a site suggesting the idea of converting an old PC into a media server. Having some bucks to spare and some free time on my hands I decided to go for it.

Just What is a Media Server?

First thing first I am sure some of you are wondering like I initially was, just what is a Media Server. A Media Server is a PC system designed to receive and record TV programs, play back video and handle the digital music and photo libraries available in its storage through a Television unit connected to it. The main components are a robust storage system with ample hard drive space and processing power and Random Access Memory sufficient enough to deliver seamless playback of HD content.

1. Check the performance of your old pc:

Analyzing the old PC, I figured out that it has a 2.4 GHz Pentium IV processor with 256 MB of RAM. While checking the minimum specifications I found that it may struggle when trying to play the HD 1080 videos so I decided to go for a RAM upgrade to 1 GB and stick to the same processor in order to save some bucks in case I also needed to upgrade the hard drive.

2. Check storage; examine hard drive capacity and speed:

The storage capacity of the old PC is about 40 GB IDE drive; which is much less as compared to the latest media servers. Generally for a media server you should have a capacity of 500gb to have enough space to hold the equivalent of 100s of DVDs. Speed of the hard drives is also a consideration. Luckily both of these problems can be corrected with a raid hard drive array.

RAID vs Single Hard drive:

The RAID array consists of more than one hard drives embedded as a single unit for high capacity and speed than the single hard drive with an external backup. Depending on how the RAID array is configured you can also configure the array for back up security. This is an added benefit as no data would be lost in the event of a hard drive crash.

3. Think about purchasing a Digital TV tuner Card:

A digital TV tuner card is a basic component of media server used to receive and record video content from the local cable or satellite system to the local hard drive. This card is very useful as it will allow to input TV into your PC and record your favorite shows. With several companies charging fees as high $6 per DVR box per month, the one time cost of a TV tuner card could save you quite a bit of money in the long run.

4. Choosing software for you media server:

Windows XP Media Center Edition is a great choice of software for a media server; having a beautiful graphic interface and easy configuration, it is however a bit expensive. If you are strapped for cash Linux based operating systems might be a good choice as they are totally free and have Myth   TV  software for  media  server purpose; but they can be hard to configure.

5. Connecting Server to the TV:

The last step involved in this project is establishing a connection between the PC and the TV. You now have to make the decision on whether to connect the media server through a wired or wireless connection. Wireless systems can be more convenient and will allow you to access your media server from throughout your house. Furthermore in terms of the placement of the wireless systems the server can be hidden out of view. The drawback to wireless systems is that they can be expensive. If only a single TV unit is present then simply running a wire from the server to the TV may be better both in terms of cost and speed of setup.

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Sling Media Technologies For Satellite TV Viewers

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Now you will be able to watch your favorite live or recorded television program even when you are not in your home. The service providers of satellite TV have entered in a long term business venture with Sling Media to introduce some of their technologically superior products for its subscribers. The introduction of these high tech devices has completely changed the way of watching TV contents.

Sling Media is a California based Technology Company that came in to existence in the year 2004. Their first product Slingbox was launched in the US market soon after the formation of this company and become huge popular among people. Slingbox is a first of its kind product that is capable of streaming live or recoded television contents over the internet. With the help of this device, people can see their TV shows either on their notebook PCs or on their smartphones. Seeing the immense popularity of their Slingbox hardware, the company launched many variants of Slingbox. The variants are Slingbox Solo, Slingbox 700U and Slingbox PRO-HD.

The Slingbox hardware’s are equipped with a unique technology called Placeshifting. In fact this is the technology that is enabling you to take your TV along with you. With the help of this technology, the recorded or live TV programs are streamed via high speed broadband internet connection. Therefore you can enjoy your chosen show either from a hotel, restaurant, coffee shop or even half way across the world. Just think for a while, you need to attend an important business meeting and on the same day one of the biggest collage football event is about to take place. You simply cannot skip the meeting nor do you want to miss the game. You might have faced such problems like this in your life.

The problem can be solved only when you get one of the Slingbox devices in your home you can get this amazing hardware from your satellite TV service provider. Simply connect the Placeshifting with your existing DVR enabled receiver by using the composite AV cable. After that you need to connect your network router with the Slingbox device by using the supplied Ethernet cable. This is how you must connect your Placeshifting enabled Slingbox devices with your DVR and network devices. But it is always advised to go through the instruction manual thoroughly before proceeding forward.

To watch your favorite TV content on your notebook PC or smartphones then you need to install Sling Player software on both devices. SlingPlayer software is a product of Sling Media and is available for Microsoft Windows and Apple’s Macintosh. It is also available for various mobile platforms such as iPhone OS, Blackberry OS, Windows Mobile and also for Symbian mobile operating systems. Once this software is installed on your PC or Mobile then your device becomes ready to play the streamed contents from your satellite TV receiver.

So here you can see that satellite TV service is all about technology. The service providers have introduced this amazing technology so that you cannot miss any of your favorite TV show.

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Tips for Choosing a HD 1080p Media Player

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So how do you make sure you are getting the most value when purchasing a HD 1080p media player? Let’s look at the facts.

Media Compatibility

Broadcast TV, DVD movies, and streaming video are almost never 1080p. Having a HD 1080p is not going to enhance the picture any higher than one supporting only 1080i or 720p. The big difference comes when you start considering the latest formats of entertainment. Blu-Ray discs are support 1080p and can take the full advantage a HD which supports 1080p. This only becomes important if your are planning on archiving your Blu-Ray movies onto your HD 1080p, which can be a great choice.

What about your TV and your HD 1080p media player

The other factor you need to consider is your television. Having a HD 1080p player does you no good, if your big screen TV is only 720p. You could still buy the 1080p HD digital player with the plans of being ready when you upgrade your TV.

Video on Demand

Since 1080p is not supported by video on demand systems at this time, due to the large bandwidth it would require, it is not a major consideration when considering your HD streaming player today. This doesn’t mean it is not going to happen in the future. Should you plan for the future, or wait for change? If price was not your biggest concern, it would make sense to get a digital player which is ready for the next generation of streaming media. Microsoft, YouTube, and other services are already planning to offer 1080p.

Now lets look at the question is a HD 1080p player worth the price? The answer is an absolute YES. You will quickly discover the cost difference between a HD 1080p player and a less capable HD digital media player is only a few dollars. Why would you try to save only a few dollars, and then not be able to use it for your future upgrades? If you have any equipment capable of 1080p, your investment in a HD 1080p media player will be well rewarded.

Additional considerations when purchasing an HD 1080p media player

Compatibility with your entertainment system

The more important questions come down to choosing seamlessly integrates with your existing television and home theater system. Choose a HD 1080p which supports video on demand, is also an HD streaming media player, and has all the connection options you need for your equipment, especially an HDMI video connector.

Wired or wireless

A bigger question should be do I choose a wireless media player, or a wired system. This can even become more important with a HD 1080p since you’ll be pushing more data.

Storage of the HD 1080p.

Also, considering your storage options will be critical when buying a HD 1080p player. Storing your Blu-Ray movies onto your HD is going to use large amounts of space. You may want to consider using network attached storage for the ease of expansion and flexibility.

So is a HD 1080p media player the best choice in a HD digital player? To get the highest value from your dollar, and to be ready for all your future needs, no other choice really makes sense.

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22 Tips on What to Wear For a TV Interview

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Recently one of my author clients was featured on FOX News Boston. Before he was interviewed on camera he was nervous but was able to recall the media training that we put him through a few weeks earlier. That, along with a pep talk, and he was good to go.

What about YOU? Are you ready to be interviewed by local or national TV? If you’ve not had media training, believe me it’s too late once you get the call. You may have to get in a car or on a plane within an hour’s notice. It’s too late to get the training then. That’s why you need to be prepared before you get the call.

My experience as a publicist has convinced me that one of the greatest concerns about being interviewed on television is what to wear. For radio or newspaper interviews, fashion doesn’t matter but how you appear is critical for TV. When my clients agree to media coaching, my first choice for them to work with is TJ Walker, CEO of Media Training Worldwide.

TJ Walker is one of the leading authorities on media training in the world. With more than 20 years of media training experience, Walker has trained thousands of CEOs, authors, and experts, including leading government officials in the United States, European Prime Ministers, and African diplomats.

Here’s a quick list of “What to Wear and Not Wear!” that TJ Walker and other media coaches have developed that I share with you now so you can look terrific for your TV interview.

1. Don’t wear white, black or red. White glows and becomes the most noticeable thing on the TV screen. Black is too harsh and can suck up all the light. Reds “bleed” on camera and are distracting.

2. Pastel shirts work well on TV.

3. The safest color on TV is blue.

4. Don’t wear dangly earrings. They distract.

5. Remove jewelry that moves, makes noise, or could hit your microphone.

6. Be wrinkle-free.

7. Don’t wear stripes, herringbone, small intricate designs, or flashy jewelry. They are hard for a TV camera to pick up on.

8. Don’t wear checks.

9. Dress in a simple, boring manner, unless you are a fashion designer.

10. TV viewers should focus on your face and what you say, not your clothes.

11. Men should have about an inch of their shirt cuff showing.

12. Avoid light colored pants.

13. Wear over-the-calf socks so your skin doesn’t show if you cross your legs.

14. Don’t wear more than one ring per hand.

15. Women shouldn’t wear short skirts if you want people to focus on your message.

16. If you wear a dark shirt, dark suit, and dark tie, you will look like you are auditioning to be a hit man on the “Sopranos.”

17. Vests look stuffy on TV.

18. Don’t wear stripes. They dance around on the screen and are distracting.

19. Avoid hair products that add shine.

20. No visible logos or companies or brands, except for your own company logo.

21. People shouldn’t judge you by your appearance, but they will.

22. If you do or wear anything distracting on TV, people will remember that and nothing you say.

Clothes are the major factor in controlling how you appear to viewers. While appearance is critical for success on television you also must be concerned about the words that come out of your mouth, the knowledge you display, and the self-confidence you demonstrate. Media coaches like TJ Walker and marketing experts like myself will make sure you are fully prepared for your big day!

The bottom line: RELAX, you’ll do fine. The butterflies you’re feeling are what will drive you to do your best! Remember, it’s not like they are going to ask you the square root of 656! They’re asking you about your book, your company, your story which you obviously know. Just follow these helpful tips, talk things over with your publicist and you’ll look as good as you sound.

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Online TV – How Does Online TV Work?

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Everyone loves TV right? Things have certainly come a lot in leaps and bounds since the old TV was invented.

Why not watch TV online? Not just TV from your area, not even regular cable TV, but be able to get TV from all over the world. Think about being able to use the power of the internet and have 2000, 3000 or even over 4,000 channels straight to your computer at home or even work.

Well that’s what is happening today. Online TV works like regular old TV. Broadcasters for regular TV put out their signal and your antenna at home picks up the signal and there you have it, you have TV ( that was a very simple version ). Well online TV works the same way. There are so many channels from around the world and all these companies are realizing that the internet is where they need to put their product.

The power of broadband and some nifty software can enable people like your self to be able to watch your favorite sports events live ( and not pay for pay per view ) you can also watch all your favorite movies & TV shows and basically keep up to date with anything that is going on in the world.

To recap, online TV works pretty much the same way as normal TV does. Broadcasters are now using the internet as another way to broadcast their channels, and for us it is a great opportunity to take advantage of. Really the software that has been made to put all these channels together in one place is what really make online TV work well.

As internet connections get faster and, eventually you will see a PC hooked up to the family flat screen and everyone watching online TV.

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What Apple Could Learn from Microsoft: Front Row Versus Windows Media Center

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While the iMac G5’s software interface for multimedia – Front Row – is new to the Mac platform. Windows users have had similar tools – in Microsoft’s Windows XP Media Center Edition – for a couple of years now. Is it possible that, as Front Row matures, it could learn a thing or two from Windows?

Feel the music

For music, Front Row gives you a large, text only interface with few options. You can shuffle the playback order of songs and search by several criteria. You can’t create playlists, but you can access playlists you’ve already created in iTunes. And you can’t browse internet radio stations, but you can access stations you’ve bookmarked in iTunes.

Media Center gives you those same navigational and playback tools, and then goes a couple of steps further. It shows album artwork and also provides a search engine that will show results as you enter characters on the remote control. Some Media Center PCs have over-the-air radio tuners, but the software will also let you access internet radio stations.

You can’t browse or buy new songs through Front Row; for that, you must use iTunes. Media Center displays a prominent ‘Buy Music’ button once you start playback, but clicking on it calls up a page of albums and a ‘Not designed for Media Center’ message. In other words, it doesn’t work any better than Front Row.

DVDs on the menu

Because the iMac G5’s remote has only six buttons, the fast-forward and fast-rewind buttons must do double duty as chapter advancing buttons. And you can’t adjust the volume until after you begin playback. DVD playback is pretty simple, but you will find out that the wrong buttons are often pressed.

The remote control supplied with Media Center PCs has dedicated buttons for nearly every DVD function, so it is easy to look at the remote and pick exactly what you want to do. The interface is quite snappy, so you’ll always get confirmation that button presses has registered.

Straight to video

Front Row gives you easy access to movie files and video podcasts stored on your iMac, and to movie trailers stored on Apple’s servers. You can play back TV shows, too, but you have to use iTunes to find and purchase them. Everything playbacks in full-screen window, which makes the 320 240 pixel TV shows look pretty fuzzy.

Media Center lets you play back videos of all sorts on your PC, and lets you burn them to CD or DVD with a couple of clicks. But it also gives you access to tons of online content, including movies from CinemaNow (www.cinemanow.com), pre-recorded television shows from Akimbo.com, and news broadcasts from Reuters and other services. One huge irritation with Media Center is that clicking on some buttons calls up ads for paid content.

But when it comes to television, Media Center’s biggest advantage over Apple’s offerings is that you can connect a Media Center PC to a TV, often through high quality component connections. Media Center plays, pauses, and records television programmes; if the PC has a TV-tuner card with two tuners, it simultaneously record two programmes and play back a third.

You can add an external TV tuner and digital video recorder, such as Elgato Systems’ EyeTV, to the iMac G5, but Front Row won’t have anything to do with it.

Currently, you can view over-the-air High-Definition (HD) broadcasts only with Media Center, and then only if the PC’s TV and supports HD. Microsoft recently announced that Media Center PCs with CableCard support will appear by Christmas; those systems should be able to play, pause, and record HDTV programmes, without the need for a set-top cable box.

A Media Center PC particularly outdoes the iMac in one area: it can’t act as a server, distributing content (including time-shifted television) to other devices throughout the house. Those devices include Media Center Extenders and the new Xbox 360, which has built-in wireless networking.

Playing catch-up

When it comes to controlling a multimedia computer, OS X isn’t anywhere near Windows XP Media Center Edition. But Media Center has been around for more than three years; comparing the fledgling Front Row to it is about as fair as comparing a bicycle to a BMW. And Apple’s success with digital audio players – which weren’t new when it began selling them – shows that the company can enter a product category and outdo the competition by offering better features and more style.

Clearly, Mac users are not going to be buying Media Center-equipped PCs anytime soon (and the same is true for Windows users and iMacs). But if Front Row picks up some of the extra features that Media Center has acquired over the years, those users may soon have reason to be very, very happy.

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