Live TV / PVR
One of the nice features of Microsoft Media Center is support for
Figure 12: Program Guide
HD live TV is a powerful feature that comes "for free" as opposed to paying a monthly subscription fee to a cable or satellite company. The feature includes the usual PVR capabilities such as the ability to record all episodes of a show, simultaneous record and playback, etc.
Note that with only a single tuner, I could not simultaneously record and watch "live" TV; I could only watch a pre-recorded show, while another was recording. But the Vista Media Center can support multiple tuners, which would let me watch "live" TV and record at the same time.
In my area, I have pretty spotty
over-the-air HDTV signals, so I was only able to pick up a couple of strong channels, and
several marginal ones. When I had a good signal, things worked well. I could
But there were issues. When my signal was very bad, I'd just get an error
indicating a lack of signal. But when I had a marginal signal, I'd occasionally
Figure 13: Lost Connection
I suspect the problem was in the TV device driver on the notebook and not on the 2200. But regardless, it was annoying when I'd have to reset the box just because I tried to change channels.
When I had a good input signal, I'd say the feature was well done, although
once again, the fonts in the program guide were way too small and not easily visible
across the room. In general, I'd say my six
I won't go into any deatils on the
The 2200 can use your own media, but it also has the ability to view assorted content from the Internet. This includes Internet radio stations, Internet video sites, news and sports information. (Figure 14).
Figure 14: Online Content
I found a few interesting sites through this capability, but it was a bit of a struggle. Many of the sections wanted to download and install their own viewer, which had to be accomplished on the PC. In addition to being a pain, this made me nervous, not really knowing how safe this was.
A couple of times I experienced what appeared to be an
unreachable site that
In general, I found that the available "Internet" content was often really nothing more than low quality trailers or commercials for the real channels. Other channels, such as the "Home Shopping" channel, were nothing but sales vehicles. Overall the "Internet Content" area felt like a bit like the 2200's low-rent district, with a few gems and a lot of junk—pretty much like the real Internet!