Media Center Extender

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Media Center Extender

Linksys Wireless A/G Media Center Extender (WMCE54AG)

Linksys Wireless A/G Media Center Extender (WMCE54AG)

I have over 167,000 Sony points to use up, so I have been itching to buy a Sony VAIO running Windows Media Center PC for some time now -- which has TiVo-like aka Personal Video Recorder (PVR) functionality. Now with the new Microsoft Media Center 2005 operating system released today, no doubt Sony will come out with the new operating system which has some cool new features. I won't go into the new Media Center 2005 features in this blog entry since I want to talk about wireless Media Center Extenders that work in conjunction with Media Center PCs to wireless transmit your Media Center PC content to anywhere in your house! In fact, one of the reasons I didn't bite the bullet was my PC was so far away from my 65" Mitsubishi television set that I would have to "snake" wires in my house from the PC to the TV, that would no doubt be grounds for a divorce! (or at least some heated discussions anyway)
Linksys Wireless A/G Media Center Extender Back Panel

Linksys Wireless A/G Media Center Extender Back Panel

Currently both LinkSys and HP have announced Media Center Extenders called the Linksys Wireless A/G Media Center Extender (WMCE54AG) and the HP Media Center Extender x5400 respectively. Check out the picture/diagram of the back panel of the LinkSys Wireless A/G Media Center Extender which includes a digital audio port (I'm assuming full-fledged 5.1 Surround Sound), S-video, and even component video for the best video quality. Both the HP and the LinkSys model are priced around $299 retail. The LinkSys website has more info including the documentation online. The HP site says "out of stock" with little to no info. I just have to share the LinkSys news release with you on the launch of their Media Center Extender. This is just too cool for words. I can't wait to get my Sony VAIO along with a LinkSys Media Center Extender or the HP model and be able to wireless control my PC from the living room and be able to pause/rewind/record live TV!

UPDATE! 12/2/04 - I reviewed the LinkSys Media Center Extender. Click here: LinkSys Media Center Extender Review

Linksys announced the new Wireless A/G Media Center Extender (WMCE54AG). The media extender enables users to wirelessly stream digital entertainment content such as music, videos or photos stored on a Microsoft Windows Media Center PC to their home entertainment center.

Using a Wireless-A, Wireless-G, or wired Ethernet connection, the Media Center Extender streams homemade or downloaded premium movies and digital photos stored on a Windows Media Center PC to TVs around the home for the whole family to enjoy. A digital music collection or Internet radio station can play in full glory through a stereo system, freed from those little computer speakers. Users can also watch and pause live TV shows or record them digitally for viewing later.

The Media Center Extender sits by a home stereo and television and connects to them using standard consumer electronic cables such as RCA connectors. It then communicates with the Media Center PC via a home network using Wireless-A or Wireless-G networking or if users prefer, it can be connected by use of 10/100 Ethernet cabling. Using the remote control and the user-friendly menus on your TV, users can quickly find the digital movies, TV shows, pictures or music on their Windows Media Center PC. Users can even chat with friends through Microsoft Windows Messenger while watching movies on the same screen. “Windows XP Media Center Edition 2005 harnesses the power of the PC to enable consumers to enjoy their digital photos, music, videos and recorded TV like never before,” said Will Poole, senior vice president of the Windows Client Business Group. “Microsoft’s vision for creating and enjoying digital entertainment in the home is further enhanced through the innovation of companies such as Linksys which offers customers the freedom and flexibility to extend their digital entertainment anywhere throughout the home.” In the latest home networking report by market research firm In-Stat/MDR, titled Digital Domicile 2004: Home Networking Hits the Big Time said, “…the continued need for broadband sharing and a growing interest in entertainment networking will drive the total value of equipment with a home networking connection of some type from $8.3 billion in 2004 to $17.1 billion by 2008. The emergence of media networking continues to be the most exciting part of the home networking market. We expect Microsoft's Media Center Extender technology to accelerate this trend going forward into 2005.”

“Moving media content around the home is becoming a popular application for wireless networks,” said Mike Wagner, Linksys director of world wide marketing. “Working closely with Microsoft, we are now able to stream premium content over the network so consumers can take their digital content from the PC and enjoy it in the comfort of their living room where the whole family can share the experience.”

What users can do with the new Wireless A/G Media Center Extender:

Choose the digital video content you want to watch, and select where and when you want to watch it.

Watch home or downloaded digital movies and browse digital pictures on a television.
Watch and record TV shows. Record by series, actor, category and more.
Comes equipped with a free on screen program guide that tells users what is on TV.
Listen to digital music collection and Internet Radio through your stereo system.
Select entertainment from on-screen menus with the easy-to-use remote control.
One user can watch a recorded TV show in the family room while at the same time another can browse through the family’s digital photo collection on the Media Center PC in the den.
For the Media Center Extender to work, users must have the following two items:

1. A PC that runs Microsoft Windows XP Media Center Edition 2005
2. A Wireless-A, Wireless-G, or Ethernet home network

The Media Center Extender works with the new Linksys Wireless A+G products launched on Sept 29. Utilizing the wireless A and wireless G radios will help provide users with the bandwidth they need to perform the applications they would like, such as streaming video, gaming, broadband sharing, printing, chat, file sharing, VoIP and much more.

Pricing and Availability:

The Linksys Wireless A/G Media Center Extender (WMCE54G) will be available through major US and Canadian retail, online retailers, distributors, director response and value added resellers for an estimated street price of $299 by end of October. The media extender is planned to be available in Europe, Asia and other countries where Linksys products are distributed sometime next year.

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