HP x5400 Media Center Extender

June 14, 2005

Over at eHomeUpgrade, Tim Coyle reviews an HP Media Center Extender that he bought on closeout.

I was very impressed with the overall experience of the Media Center extender – I thought it really imaged the Media Center interface well and I didn’t notice any major differences between the two. The extender will suffer due to your network bandwidth so get a fast network if you want to stream TV and video because you are going to need all of it. (Yes the extender has limitations on how much bandwidth it can stream but routers are cheap it’s always better to have overkill than just-not-enough) Even with these issues the extender gives you so much opportunity to place your digital content where and when you want it that it is too tempting to pass up.

He then muses a bit on why they’re closing these out, and suggests that sales may have been down due to the retail price ($300 or so).

I think that’s fairly close to the mark, but more to the point it’s the bang-for-the-buck factor.

$300 will buy you a fairly nice Tivo (which comes with monthly fees, tho).

Alternatively, you can go buy an XBox with a pretty hefty discount these days, along with the XBox Media Center Extender software, and have a Media Center Extender that has a DVD player for less than $250. Plus hey, it’s an XBox.

Granted, you won’t have built-in wireless, but moving much video even over an 802.11G network is a pretty thankless experience, particularly if you plan to do anything else with it at the time.

Worse, with the XBox 360 now announced, and slated to have much better Media Center integration, selling a standalone box without any other features for $300 has to be a pretty tough sale to make.