Ed Bott: Media Center already does HDTV! Ed Bott takes PVRblog to task for suggesting that Media Center can’t record HDTV in a write up on new HDTV support that SnapStream has announced for their next major revision.
Yes Virginia, MCE can record HDTV, OTA HDTV only, but this is largely worthless. Let me explain to you why. Some of the best TV being put out today is not being broadcast over the air. My two favorite shows on television at present are Six Feet Under and the Sopranos. These two shows put everything else put out by the crappy networks to shame. The shows are fresh, cutting edge, critically acclaimed and make for some of the hottest TV around. So if you are going to want to watch these two shows (as well as many other things) in HDTV you are either going to go with a DirecTV HDTV box (presently a TiVo box, but this may change soon) or you are going to go with a cable HDTV box.
Now both of these solutions will already today record your network TV for you in HDTV. In fact, not only does my HDTV DirecTV TiVo record all the network stuff in HDTV for me as it is, but I get two feeds (an East Coast and West Coast feed) which allows me even more flexibility for viewing and recording. With a four tuner box which can receive every network show twice a day (once at East Coast broadcast time, once at West Coast broadcast time) as you can imagine, any recording conflicts quickly disappear.
So why in the world would I bother screwing around with upgrading my MCE box to record HDTV that I already get? The TiVo interface is every bit as good as the MCE interface for recorded television (some might even suggest better).
Now I’m not arguing that the new SnapStream HDTV support that PVRBlog writes about is necessarily any big thing. Good to see I guess, but Ed is right, it’s OTA HDTV and as far as I’m concerned this is as much a non-event there as it is up in Redmond. As I posted in my comment over at their story this morning, “where’s the beef?”
Ed takes issue with PVRBlog’s report that Microsoft is holding off on HDTV (which was linked to me) and also posts that “Microsoft and all the other companies aren’t “holding off” on anything.” Per Ed, “the hardware to decode HDTV over cable needs to exist first, and it needs to be approved by CableLabs.” Sorry Ed, I don’t buy it. Premium HDTV content should have been in Media Center a long, long, time ago. It hasn’t been a priority for Microsoft. It’s easy to play the blame game and say it’s Hollywood, or it’s the hardware, or it’s technical limitations, but the truth is that if Microsoft had made premium HDTV content a priority they could have had this done a long time ago.
Microsoft mistakenly views the current HDTV market as not mainstream enough. Instead of making premium HDTV a priority Microsoft would rather roll out half assed concessions like OTA HDTV — while out of view from the rest of us they negotiate with Hollywood to try to carve out the largest piece of moolah they can from the digital TV pie. Look, DirecTV/TiVo has had premium HDTV for over a year. If Microsoft wanted to there are many different ways that they could pipe HDTV into a Media Center box, they are already recording HDTV with their Foundation software for Comcast today. Even if they just built a Foundation box into a Media Center PC for the sole use of HDTV capabilities this could be done. I’m tired of hearing excuses for Microsoft on this one.