Microsoft’s Media Center is all the rage today, and I am sure you have read everything you need to read. However, the only product that caught my eye was the Voodoo PC’s new Vibe Media Center – XBox combo. Clever idea, if you ask me. Keep the PC in the den or wherever, and put XBox next to the TV, where it is not that out of place. Voodoo came up with its own hack of Microsoft extender, and can also play back AVI and DiVX movies. Voodoo VIBE is designed to sit in your home office as a central media server PC. You can then hook up a custom VIBE XBOX to your TV, and not only can you play XBOX games, but you can record and pause LIVE TV easily. This setup allows you to stream videos, display slide shows, play MP3, play LIVE FM Radio, and even burn recordings to DVD from your VIBE XBOX on the VIBE HTPC. Rahul Sood, the CTO of the company explained that Voodoo is going to use Ethernet instead of WiFi for the extender because wireless technlogies cannot be depended for flawless playback. “It hit us recently that simply turning a PC on its side and putting it next to a television doesn’t make any sense. Voodoo VIBE takes the concept of HTPC to the next level.” The whole set-up is going to set you back by about $5000, that is if you have that much to spare.
Of the rest of the models which have hit the market, Nievus Media’s designs are impressive, though I am not sure how many of us can really afford to spend $4000 on a PC. HP has surprisingly good looking devices (performance is a whole different thing) and are relatively cheap. Anyway I think Microsoft’s strategy of putting everything in the OS again, is something which worries me. I am not sure if I want to entrust Microsoft with my entertainment experience, especially after a mediocre experience with its desktop OS. I would take Apple + TiVo over Microsoft any day. Having said that, I will reserve judgement till I have had a chance to play with the new OS. And all these so called innovators who are jumping on the Media Center bandwagon, a little future forecast: road kill.