Windows Media Center Extenders Compared

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.

5 thoughts on “Windows Media Center Extenders Compared”

  1. But that means dealing with a solution from MS. And there are those of us who will eat our TiVos before we go down the path of letting MS control our entertainment delivery.

    My issue (and this might not affect someone like Ben the way it affects me) is I troubleshoot MS products all day and I see them fail all day. The last thing I want to do is go home and find out that a patch for Vista has hosed a driver or a config file or something else in the main box and the decoding for the CableCards isn’t working or that the box can’t connect to the network, etc.

    If I can go home and not have to troubleshoot my entertainment center, then that is worth however much extra I pay to TiVo over an MS solution. And, thus far, I have yet to have to troubleshoot my (non-hacked) TiVos.

  2. Bens article is a good one for VMC users

    Alternatively, if you want more options of OS (XP, Vista, WHS, Linux, Mac) for your HTPC server go with SageTV and use the excellent SageTV HD100 Extender. It handles more video formats, doesn’t have the DRM hassles, allows for playing of ripped DVDs etc. etc.

  3. @Geoffrey I’m where you are… I used to run a HTPC with my projector and just got tired of troubleshooting it all the time. Perhaps I could have left well enough alone, but knowing there’s new drivers and such always motivated me to tweak which led to configuration hassles or rollbacks, etc. Every now and then I dabble with the idea of making VMC my centerpiece but usually abandon it after config issues – most recently, it seems like I have a choice between proper resolution output OR audio over HDMI. I’d like both, thanks.

  4. xbox 360 FTW. It’s not really fair to compare it with TiVo tho. I was using both up until I got an HDTV and opted for DirecTV’s DVR. TiVo does one thing (DVR) and does it really well. VMC does a lot of stuff ok. I like that I can keep all my media on my home server box and my xbox 360 will play pretty much all of them. With TiVo, I was always transcoding to WMV which was painful. So, I guess it really all depends on what you’re trying to do and what your needs are.

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