SageTV Excels As Microsoft Fails
Following the delay of
v2 Media Center Extenders, SageTV has released some information
and photos of
their upcoming Media Extender and the reaction has been superb (here,
for just a few examples).
Let’s get right to it, their SageTV HD Media Extender
(STX-HD100) will be $199. Hey, they
listened to customer feedback and choose a good price point. Sure, I’ve said in the past that $150 is the
perfect price but considering this is coming from a small company, they sure
nailed the price. Linksys and D-Link,
who have both delayed their release of v2 Extenders, failed to
intro products at price points that I consider reasonable.
SageTV HD Media Extender
v2 Extenders are now likely to show at retail after the new
year, killing the “Holiday 2007” timeframe completely. Great to have them unveiled at DigitalLife in
October and then delayed into the next year after announcing that they would be
available this year. On the other side
of things, Sage is expecting theirs to be ready to go in two weeks (12/10) just
beating the holiday sales window.
It isn’t all good though.
Looking though the threads some people have some dislikes, albeit minor. There appears to be no learning remote included,
no CD/DVD drive option, local USB ports not active, no wireless option, and
some other small things. To me, the case
isn’t that attractive (kinda cheap lookin) and that is something that most
people seem to complain about that with other products.
With all that said, most major details haven’t really been
Evans outlined the few confirmed features: HDMI (also S-Video, Composite
and Component), SPDIF, 10/100 Mbps Ethernet, and 1080p output. H.264 is also on the list, but other than
that not much is known about file format or container support.
I have high hopes for container and file format
support. To me, Sage understands exactly
what their customers are looking for in this device. They have had a makeshift solution for a
while with the MediaMVP, but to me they have no reason to put out a device that
doesn’t do what their userbase is looking to do. The same can’t be said Media Center Extenders
in most cases.
A lot of these differences in understanding boil down to the
perceived market. Linksys/D-Link are
making devices for “everyone”, not the Media Center enthusiast. SageTV on the other hand is taking the smart
route and is making the device for the enthusiast. The “everyone’s” of the world reap the
benefits. You develop for enthusiasts in
these products to a large extent, and it is my belief that Sage understands
this and Microsoft (along with their partners) don’t.
SageTV has key support for some features that Media Center doesn’t,
noticeably native QAM support for several tuners. However, one thing that SageTV doesn’t have
and likely will never is CableCARD support.
Evil DRM aside, I’ve been a proponent of CableCARD (and DIRECTV) support
because it is needed for mass adoption into the home. For anyone who doesn’t care about that angle
of things and wants to live DRM free forever, I can’t help but suggest watching SageTV’s next move. Oh, did I mention that SageTV also has their
own version of Softsled
(SageTV Placeshifter) and they also have a Windows Home Server support?
Microsoft and their partners need to take a long look at
what SageTV is doing, much of it should have been part of Media Center
for a while now. Congratulations to
SageTV on a job well done thus far, and we all are looking forward to see what is delivered
in the final product.