New Media Center PCs from HP

Matt Goyer’s Microsoft Windows Media Center Blog – MCE 2005 Matt Goyer has the skinny on two new Media Center PCs being introduced by HP, the z555 and z557. Matt’s been using the z555 for the past several weeks and would recommend it.

According to Matt:


Great specs. Triple tuner – Dual NTSC tuner plus an ATSC tuner!

Great case. When I get home tonight I’ll put some pictures online but lots of attention to detail has been paid on both the front and back. The front has a front panel display, hides connections nicely, looks clean. And the back panel looks like the back of my receiver and not a computer. Everything is clearly labeled and makes sense.

Great out of box experience. HP really put a lot of work into this and it shows. Great quick start documents. Nearly every cable imaginable (the only one I feel they need to add is a optical SPDIF cable) is included.

Great keyboard. Works better than my Gyration. No external receiver required, it’s all built into the unit.


Some of HP’s included Media Center specific software needs polishing.

Norton Anti Virus pops up annoying 10′ dialogs too frequently telling you to go to 2′.

i’ve fallen in love with my custom MCE remote and wish other remotes included it’s features. So I wish the HP one had backlighting and the ability to control my TV power and receiver volume.”

I’d add as a con that you will need to deal with HP for after market support (groan).

Personally I’m still chugging along with my old HP873N. I think I’ll buy several Xboxes to use as Extenders when they come out later this year but other than that I think I’ll be waiting for the convergence of Longhorn, 64 bit computing and cable/satellite HDTV support before making the next jump for the living room.

I will say though that this is a very hot looking MCE machine and you’ve got to love the triple tuner (especially when one is OTA HDTV). I might be more inclined to consider the machine if there were some kind of clear upgrade path in terms of adding in a cable or satellite HDTV tuner when they are available. Knowing this kind of support ahead would make a huge difference.

This of course is still well over a year away and I’m sure by then I’ll find some other rationalization on why not to upgrade — but I suspect at that point I’ll be able to overcome it.