I had an interesting conversation with a Microsoftie at BlogFerence the other day. We got to talking about the core mission of TVMama, which is to help people get their online content out of the small box (their laptop or desktop) and onto their big box (that yummy 42-52″ plasma set hanging on the wall of their media room) or onto their really tiny box (iPod or Archos 604 or something).
The first part of the conversation went well. The Microsoftie was explaining to me how he watches cable, satellite and over-the-air TV without having cable or satellite or even a good antenna. He pulls it all in through his Microsoft Media Center and uses a Media Center remote control. But wait. That only works with a handful of TV shows and stations that are optimized for that.
So, for everything else, he has to use his Media Center keyboard and he has to have the computer itself in the room with the TV.
“It is a computer,” he said. (Right, and a noisy one at that, so I am told.)
But then he can do anything (well, except what it says you have to add or buy – see these Microsoft Windows Vista footnotes….
OK, I said, so, how much does it cost (if you can even find one to buy. Did anyone other than Microsofties buy them after they came out in 2005?) In Israel, a good price is about $1,000.
I see; that’s not so bad. How much is AppleTV? $299 – less than one-third of the price – or $399 with 160GB hard-drive. And the Apple remote has four buttons on a wheel and the Microsoft remote has how many???? And how many has Microsoft sold?
Don’t take my word for it. Old GigaOm himself went over this in some depth more than a year ago, and concluded “that ease of use is what Microsoft did not think about….Microsoft lost the plot, and did too much with the platform, which was truly made for early-early adopters. They should have seeded the market with a simpler product. They could have convinced a lot of people to start using their platform, because it was a virgin market they could have simply owned. Microsoft in my opinion, overreached.”
I don’t get the impression that Media Center has been a big hit. Am I wrong? It may be a favorite toy of a handful of geeks and those who have drunk Microsoft’s Kool-Aid (see our Microsoftie above), but it’s not the media streamer/media extender/ PC-TV convergence device we want. Is it the one you want? Tell your TVMama.
Update: A real “build-it-yourself” techie says the new Media Center software is “downright seamless, even elegant.” But it still requires a computer in the living room. In fact, this guy (Scott Taves) loves it so much, he says you should put it in the HTPC (home theater PC) he tells you how to build in the aforementioned article. It’s only $1,648, he says. How does that compare with Archos TV+ or Apple TV?