EngadgetHD’s Ben Drawbaugh recently abandoned TiVo in favor of a CableCARD Vista Media Center and has been evaluating the current crop of extenders. His ultimate advice: If you’re a gamer, stick with the Xbox 360 (despite the cost and noise). Otherwise, the quiet and relatively inexpensive Linksys DMA2100 ($240) is the way to go.
Archives For Xbox
It appears that the Xbox 360 Dashboard will only receive a minor update in the near future:
most users will not notice any significant changes to the dashboard this spring
While Marc Whitten of Xbox Live says they’ve recently been focused on the infrastrucutre, a little birdie shared something recently… We’ll see if it pans out, but a major UI overhaul may be underway with a winter target release.
Dale still seems to be enjoying Grand Theft Auto IV, but I’ve had enough. Though sales have been HUGE, my copy of GTA IV is on the way back to Gamefly. The somewhat repetitive missions to advance the plot aren’t doing it for my short attention span. I also miss the more precise avatar combat control of Call of Duty 4 (or even Halo) and the driving control of Burnout Paradise over GTA IV. As I’ve done with previous editions of GTA, I dropped the story mode, acquired a small arsenal, found well-defended locations, and took out law enforcement. But that’s only fun for so long. Other nits: Text is too small and the environments are often too dark – even with the in-game brightness cranked.
I recently listened to the March 31, 2008 EGM Live Podcast (download) where Garnett Lee interviewed Aaron Greenberg, Microsoft’s Director of Product Management for the Xbox 360 and Xbox Live. Among other topics, Aaron had the unenviable job of defending the concept of Microsoft Points (time index 17:40).
Reading several articles today on Sony’s pending PS3 on-demand service (see here, here and here) and Sony’s pending Playstation cards, to be denominated in local currency (here), it occurred to me that Microsoft’s use of points alone is going to become increasingly untenable as Microsoft’s key game/movie/TV show download competitors all offer competing products denominated and purchasable in local currencies.
Below I discuss Aaron’s arguments for Microsoft Points and what, to me, are overwhelming competitive arguments against them.
There’s good news out today if you’re an Xbox owner and into the console’s content downloading features. Microsoft has done a deal with producer and agent Peter Safran to create short, scripted shows for the Xbox. Yes scripted, not reality TV. Saffran says he’ll focus first on horror and comedic fare, appealing to the male, 14-34 demographic. No word yet on the advertising model (Pre-rolls? Interstitial commercials? Product placement?), but new shows should be available to the Xbox Live audience by this fall.
I’m still skeptical of the Xbox-as-Trojan-horse theory, mainly because I don’t know any who own an Xbox except for Dave. I know a few folks with PlayStations (there’s a PS2 in our house), and increasingly I hear friends say they’ve picked up the Wii to play with the kids. But certainly Microsoft is doing a good job of continuing to expand the range of entertainment available on Xbox Live. Are there enough people like Dave around to watch it?
I’m later than I’d have liked in pointing out Chris Lanier’s thoughts on the the relatively new Linksys DMA2200 Microsoft-based v2 Media Extender. Overall Chris seems pleased with the form factor and basic extender functionality, though he dings the unit for lacking more comprehensive media format playback capabilities:
Iâd give the Linksys DMA2200 a 6/10. It still needs a lot of work, and I really feel at this point with it being a second generation product that these issues shouldnât exist. For simply extending the âcoreâ? Media Center experience (minus videos), the DMA2200 is fantastic. However, it still lacks in providing format support to bring the device to the level it should be.
Check out the entire series:
- Linksys Extender Review Part 1: Media Center & PC Setup
- Linksys Extender Review Part 2: Extender Experience
- Linksys Extender Review Part 3: Wrap-up
Chris also notes that the D-Link DSM-750 v2 extender should be shipping soon. In addition to Windows MCE extender functionality, the D-Link unit should provide more flexible media playback options via it’s Media Lounge interface.
I believe the Xbox 360 is still a better value (gaming, content downloads, and media extender) than these devices, assuming one can deal with the noise and bulk… and that the types of media one intends to play are supported.