You know, the concept of a standalone Media Center Server is
interesting. It is exactly what many
enthusiasts want, and it would be logical to only have a single device instead
of attempting to make the sale of a Windows Home Server and powerful Media
Center PC (either desktop or standalone).
I’ve seen dozens of people bring them up at the Owen Threads ,
but I’m still not sure I buy it.
What is the principle problem people have with Media Center
right now outside of the lack of integration?
Price. I’ve talked about it being
important dozens of times, but when you factor price into the Media Center
Server equation it just doesn’t equal out.
have started questioning it to, and are finally starting to realize that
the price of such a machine wouldn’t make it marketable or profitable (something
saying for years, minus Viiv which Intel didn't follow-up on) despite the
fact that it is seen as the holy grail to many.
Instead of buying an expensive desktop PC, you want to buy a
server which is actually going to be more expensive? Media Center has become more demanding on the
hardware side, it really isn’t the application you can run on your extra PC
that was just gathering dust in the closet.
Even when you take video playback out of the equation, you still have
streaming to Extenders to factor into the picture, you still have recording
from multiple tuners, you still have transcoding and ripping audio/video, and
let’s not forget you also have mission critical backup and file serving to deal
with assuming you are integrated the Home Server functions.
When I have posted about CableCARD PCs over the past year a
common reply is where is the option without the “expensive” HDCP-HDMI graphics
card. It is also a common argument for
the Media Center Server side of things.
Take out the expensive graphics card are replace it with integrated
since the server has no local playback abilities. Makes sense, until you realize that all the
PC really needs is a $60-$150 graphics card at this point. It is no longer the great expensive it used
A Media Center Server, while a great concept, is something
that I just don’t see as a good move for Microsoft at this point. I’m not trying to say there is no market for
a Media Center Server, but I don’t think it should be the key platform for
Microsoft to concentrate on. Media
Center is hard enough to sell, no doubt some marketing would help with that,
but trying to market an expensive server isn’t going to help the cause.
I find it much easier to sell a Windows Vista desktop PC and
an Xbox 360 or Extender to someone then to sell then a Media Center Server and
an Xbox 360 or Extender. That Vista PC
is really the only thing that people can use to justify the cost of Media
Center. The fact that you get the PC is
very important and shouldn’t be overlooked.
Without the PC aspect, I wouldn’t be a Media Center user still.
It also should be noted that we look at the high end and speciality guy’s releasing new systems monthly that are basically Media Center
Servers without the Windows Home Server aspect involved. All I ever see people do is comment about how
expensive and how they would never spend such an amount for Media Center. Needless to say, I’m a tad confused about
what people really hope to get out of a Media Center Server.
What price point would you see these targeted at by
Microsoft and OEMs? Above $1,800 seems
like most are out of the market based on what I’ve been reading from everyone
on CableCARD PCs, but I wouldn’t see a Media Center Server launching for less
than that (most likely significantly more).
Also note that I’m leaving out the build your own
scenario. With CableCARD and likely
DIRECTV being OEM only, Microsoft should not be concentrating on two visions
(this is the problem in the first place with the E&D division). Unlike CableLabs changes their mind on how
CableCARD on the PC is administrated, there is no reason for Microsoft to put
development time toward a solution that wouldn’t work for HD.
So, what price point would you see these targeted at by
Microsoft and OEMs?
Update: Based on current comments, I'm not sure if I'm getting my point across.
- What price would you spend for a "Media Center Server"?
- If that price is as much or more as current CableCARD PCs (which are basically servers with data backup), then do you have a problem with the price of current CableCARD/High End Media Center PCs? I know most of my readers have problems with the price.
- Why would you jump on a product called a Media Center Server when you will not jump on a higher priced Media Center PC from a speciality company or that includes CableCARD?
It just doesn't make sence to me why you would spend money for a product called a "Media Center Server," when current Media Center PCs and CableCARD PCs are really "servers" to begin with, and yet we all complain about the high price of these PCs. Why?
Update 2: So, I realized I probably shouldn’t of titled this “would
you buy…” considering the first thing I said in the post was that enthusiasts
want it. My point, that I didn’t get across
at all (one day I’ll realize that I’m the worst writer in the history of the world) is that
I don’t believe a standalone server will sell to anyone but enthusiasts simply
because no average person is going to run out and purchased a dedicated box
that doesn’t function as a regular PC.
was surprised that the few people that put on price tag in their post would pay
so much considering how most complain about the price of CableCARD and speciality Media Center's. On the price subject, I don't think many people understood my point about specs and OEM Media Center Servers. Just because you can build a low end machine and it works for your four tuners, doesn't mean an OEM can do the same. Both Microsoft and OEMs put a lot of work into figuring out what is needed, and for a high end server that is going to be at the center of a home you can skimp on anything if you are an OEM and Microsoft. You can on your home built stuff, but this isn't the same.
A few commented that part of the idea for the server concept would be stablity. My counter to this is that Media Center needs to be stable no matter what it is running on, and Microsoft should be looking at the concept of running Media Center in a sandbox (or rather, keeping settings and codecs in a sandbox to stop other programs from screwing them up).
I also feel that a lot of comments came back to things that are not in Media Center, mainly Softsled (a software Extender). This is key to Media Center's future, be it on a standalone server or desktop PC.
Thanks to all that have commented! Great feedback.