Remember Back in November When Thomas Hawk Said the XBox 360 Would Be How Microsoft Would Own Your Living Room?

Microsoft Unveils Xbox 360 Elite: Premium black console includes 120GB hard drive and line of new accessories. Remember back in November when Thomas Hawk (yes that’s me) wrote that the XBox 360 would represent Microsoft’s Trojan Horse (in a good way, not in a virus way) into your living room?

Well today Microsoft took one step closer towards their master plan of living room domination with the powerful secret weapon in their popular XBox 360 gaming unit, it’s extender functionality. Today Microsoft announced the upcoming availability of the XBox 360 Elite which will include a 120GB hard drive and will increasingly be marketed and positioned as an entertainment hub even more than a gaming machine.

And I have to say it’s brilliant. I’m glad to see Microsoft taking a more aggressive position with regards to the XBox 360 as a home media distribution platform. I’m sure that in part this marketing message has been crafted to counter Apple’s recently released iDongle for your TV.

So what’s the major advantage that XBox 360 has over AppleTV? It’s simple really. 90% of it comes down to HDTV. People continually underestimate the importance of HDTV. Microsoft is much further ahead than Apple in the ability to deliver HD content to your living room. Apple’s picture quality looks like crap. And there seem to be no obvious plans for Apple to begin offering a cable/satellite based DVR solution for their Apple TV initiative any time soon.

Microsoft, on the other hand, will very shortly have available new Vista machines (and upgrading with a new PC is probably the best way to upgrade to Vista) that work with CableLabs approved HDTV tuners. These HDTV tuners will allow you to record premium HDTV content from your cable provider to your Media Center PC and then ship this high quality programming to any TV in your house equipped with an XBox 360.

What’s more, best I can tell, there will be no additional charges from your cable company beyond the typical service charge to distribute to multi rooms in your house.

At present, although Apple may be sexy and have marketing and advertising prowess that Microsoft can only dream of, they just can’t compete with the superiority of the XBox 360 as a home media hub.

And even if you don’t want HDTV, the XBox 360 will work with any XP or Vista machine equipped with a standard definition TV tuner. Since most people already pay a cable or satellite provider for TV service, recording this content on your Media Center PC involves very little additional cost. Getting this content to your living room without having to buy it and pay additional to iTunes represents real value.

Although a lot of people talk about a la carte pricing being better than cable or satellite monthly bills, very few people are abandoning their cable or satellite provider yet. And because the Media Center PC / Xbox combo can use your existing cable or satellite signal your content effectively becomes free vs. paid at Apple.

On top of it all, the XBox 360 is a kick ass gaming platform. I never thought I’d appreciate this as much as I do now that I own one.

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4 Comments

  1. AMG55NJ says:

    I completely agree with you on this. I have a cable subscription and I use MCE to record all my favorite shows. From here I can put them on my Toshiba Gigabeat and take it with me or watch it in my living room through my XBOX 360 or in my bedroom through another XBOX 360.

    I think this is a much better solution than purchasing an Apple TV and then buying shows on top of that. I get the best gaming platform as a huge benefit.

    Apple just has great marketing. Now if they added CableCard and I could record my own shows plus added movie rentals as well as RSS feeds, then that’s more of a competitor. But I don’t see them doing this, ever as it will take away from people purchasing shows.

    Guess it all comes down to how much tv you watch and if you want a gaming platform as part of the deal. MS should definitely come out with Version 2 Extenders soon and also a software extender like Beyond TV Link.

    Just my 2 cents.

  2. Greg Smith says:

    “Apple’s picture quality looks like crap.” I may be a Apple Fan boy but I would say this is a little harsh. 720 looks pretty awesome on my TV, so does 1080. SD TV looks like crap.

  3. In addition to acting as a media hub, the 360’s ability to download HD movies and tv shows provides yet another advantage as well. While the 360s online media gui doesn’t equal Vista’s MCE interface, I have no doubt it will eventually get there.

  4. jodyp says:

    Um, maybe MS has the PVR advantage in the States, but cablecards are not going to work everywhere else. They’re not mandated, so the cable-cos won’t support them.

    That means no way to record high-def, except using their proprietary boxes. (note: even if I didn’t have high def, I wouldn’t switch off of the cable-co box, I don’t want to use analog tuners, ir-blasters, or give up dual tuner support).

    So there you go, media center won’t work well everywhere else (or I’d buy it in a second).