Windows XP Media Center Edition 2005

I’m getting a new computer. Well most of a new computer. And I’ve been considering whether to get Windows Media Centre Edition or not.

The first two versions of MCE were rather lacking but after reading a lot I’ve decided 2005 is actually quite cool.

What is Windows XP Media Center Edition 2005?

Good question. One I didn’t know the answer to until recently. It’s Windows XP a with range of new utilities for working with video, music and images (as well as bits of hardware associated with them) all wrapped inside one interface. The idea is to have your computer as the hub for your whole home entertainment system.

Digital Video Recording (DVR)

The most useful component is the built in DVR software (sometimes called Personal Video Recorder or PVR). Plug your TV into your TV tuner card and Windows can record stuff straight to your hard drive. But of course most TV tuners come with software to do this. Well MCE does it better to be honest. And you can also get a hardware bundle (ready built systems come with it) that includes a IR blaster. Basically it’s an infra-red transmitter you stick to the front of your set top box (Sky, cable, whatever) to allow your MCE computer to change channels.

Disk space

The lowest quality recording takes up between 1Gb and 1.5Gb per hour. Reasonable hard drives these days are about 200Gb which gives you about 100 hours of video (leaving space for other stuff). Not really suitable for storage but it does allow you to burn things to DVD. Most of the time. The software apparently supports any content restriction specified in incoming media and won’t let you copy such content of the computer that made it.

But it’s still a computer, right?

MCE is actually Windows XP Professional underneath. It took a while to confirm (most references are vague about whether it’s XP Home or XP Pro) but I did find a page on Microsoft’s website saying it’s XP Pro. This means you can do everything with it that you can normally do with a PC.

One final note… you could always install MCE on a Mac.