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 What is actually a media center?

TV sets, recorders, DVD players, hi-fi systems - Media centers replace your entire electronic equipment.

With a remote control you control playback of your films or mp3 audio data as well as recording of your favourite series using the "electronic program guide" via Internet.

Media centers can be purpose-built (e.g. KiSS VR-558) or media center PCs, which are personal computers that can be enhanced for example by Microsoft's "Media Center Edition" as system software.

Network Attached Storage (NAS) multimedia servers with huge hard disk drives allow streaming to all kinds of appliances via LAN or WLAN: a possible "media center".

Moreover, media centers are supposed to add more functions to our present world of entertainment at home, which mostly has not comprised more than watching TV and listening to music, so far. Thus, a media center integrates all forms of – compatible – devices.

There are different kinds of media centers:

  • Media center PCs with MS "Media Center Edition"
  • Media center PCs with free software or other software
  • Media servers (streaming servers)
  • Media servers (streaming servers)
  • Mobile media centers

 Media center hardware

In addition to streaming servers and insufficiently certified devices there are media center PCs meeting the new Viiv ™ standard by Intel.

These media center PCss with Viiv™ certificates are already available in various forms:
All-in-one devices designed as flat screen TV sets,
regular PCs with the usual beige housings,
devices in a hi-fi look ranging to mini PCs which are not much bigger than a book...

The media center PC, taking centre stage in this Viiv™ initiative, has the following components and functions:

  • Intel dual-core prozessor:
    The dual-core processor allows you for example to watch a DVD on your new high-definition TV set while your daughter is listening to her favourite music in the adjoining room.
  • Network interface card
  • Supports high-definition TV sets up to 1080i
  • Minimum 5.1-channel audio, 7.1-channel audio recommended
  • Integrated digital video recorder
  • Intel Matrix Storage Technology:
    Here, several hard disk drives of the media center computer can be connected in such a way as to allow fast reading of their data.
  • Intel Quick Resume Technologie:
    With this function the media center computer can be instantly switched on and off at the push of a button.
  • Remote Control
  • Wireless keyboard and mouse
  • TV card e

That means specifically:
  • Intel processor: Pentium D 820 and higher, Extreme Edition or Core Duo
  • Intel chip set: i945, i955X or i975X with ICH7-DH, and i945GT or i945GM with ICH7-MDH
  • Intel LAN: Pro/1000 PM, Pro 1000 VE or VM connection
  • Intel Quick Resume Technology
  • Intel Matrix Storage Technology
  • Native Command Queuing (NCQ) S-ATA hard drive
  • Intel High Definition Audio (5.1 or higher)
  • Microsoft Windows XP Media Center Edition 2005-SP2


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 Media center software

Following the Viiv™ standard, the operating system specified by Intel is Microsoft® Windows XP Media Center Edition™ (MCE 2005)

Using this operating system most functions can be easily accessed through a remote control.

Media center functions are included in Windows Vista in the versions Vista Home Premium or Vista Ultimate and higher. They are integrated into the "Media Extender" even allowing usage of the Xbox 360 as a media streamer. The console plays back all MPG, WMV, and MP3 formats.

For non-Windows systems there are in addition to "My Media System", an open-source application for Linux systems,

  • Apple Front Row
  • LinuxMCE
  • All Media - HTPC software (freeware)
  • myHTPC
  • mythTV
  • MediaPortal
  • Sceneo TVcentral
  • Video Disk Recorder
  • Nero 7 with Nero MediaHome
Links will follow ...


» Media center functions

The following functions should be included in a media center:
  • Easy connecting of all components
  • Several functions in parallel
  • No longer slow booting and shut down
  • New contents via the Internet
  • Central storage location for all data
  • PC utilisation
  • Data storage
  • Rights management for protected contents

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