Xbox: A Winner Only at Games | “The heart of Microsoft's vision is a PC running Windows XP Media Center Edition, which can dispatch music, photos, live or recorded TV, or other videos to different devices on your home network. The new Xbox fits right in, pulling TV signals from your PC, for example, and showing them on any screen. It's simple to set up, and you can get it connected in less than five minutes. Although video quality suffers a bit from the compression required for moving it on the network, it's not bad, even over wireless -- provided you have a strong signal.
There are some shortcomings: The Xbox makes a racket -- especially its cooling fan. This is O.K. during game play but not when you're watching TV or listening to music. Worse, there are some basic flaws in Microsoft's grand vision. Media Center has very limited ability to handle high-definition programming. And if you have the Xbox sitting there next to your HD display and cable or satellite set-top box, you don't need the expensive Media Center setup”
I’m confused about the first point, I’m not aware of any “compression” applied to content in order to stream it. I’m not exactly sure where this bit is coming from, but the files are only compressed in the exact form they are on the Media Center PC. DVR-MS are MPEG-2 for example. Yes, it’s compressed, but it’s not compressed for moving it on the network.
The noise the unit makes is subjective, however Charlie Owen says “when running the Media Center Extender software, it's virtually silent with the fans at their lowest setting. From my experience, it's quieter than the VCR in my kids playroom when running MCX.”
The article is correct about the shortcoming with HDTV, but I think they might have missed that Microsoft and CableLabs Announce Agreement to Enable High-Definition Digital Cable Programming on Windows-Based PCs. A quick quote for those who don’t know: “These Media Center PCs, capable of supporting a CableCARD module, will allow consumers to enjoy one-way cable programming, including premium high-definition cable content, on their personal computer and throughout the home on compliant network-connected devices, such as Xbox 360”. The Xbox 360 will be a device that is built on over the next year. The functionality of the device, or connected devices, will improve and bring much wanted features to the consumer.