Associated Press Botches a Apple iMac Review

MacDailyNews – Apple and Mac News – Welcome Home: “You’d think that Fordahl, if he’s too lazy to conduct a proper hands-on review of the machine, could at least spend 10-seconds to read Apple’s iMac webpages first to get the basic facts right, especially as he knows that what he writes will be syndicated verbatim worldwide.” MacDailyNews is out with a blast at the Associated Press’ Matthew Fordahl regarding a recent review he wrote on the Apple iMac.

In addition to errors about the iMac, Microsoft’s Charlie Owen from the Microsoft Media Center team also points out that Fordahl got a few things wrong about the Media Center platform as well. Owen takes issue with Fordahl’s statement, “unlike a Windows Media Center PC, however, Front Row never dumped me in a position where I had to leave the couch and pick up the keyboard.”

Charlie correctly notes that technically you never need to use the keyboard with Media Center. I’d have to agree. I can’t remember an instance where I’ve ever had to use the keyboard in MCE. There are times when I want to switch out of Media Center mode and then by choice I use the keyboard, but MCE will work just fine 100% with the remote.

Charlie also takes issue with Fordahl’s statement that, “The machine also doesn’t have the nasty habit of turning itself back on after it’s been put into standby mode – a problem I’m currently having on a Media Center PC I’m testing in my bedroom.”

I can’t really comment on Fordahl’s standby issue as I never use the standby mode. However, it wouldn’t surprise me that Fordahl would have a glitch from time to time. Although MCE 2005 is the most error free version of MCE yet, there still are curious errors that I get from time to time. For instance, if I use the volume control on my MCE remote it doesn’t effect the volume when I’m running the sound of my MCE machine through an optical link to my home theater. Even though the sound goes from 25 to zero on my MCE machine the volume level never changes on my home theater. I’m sure this is just a glitch as I’m sure Fordahl experienced his own glitch with the standby problem he says he experienced.

Say what you will about the blogosphere, but most of us are pretty quick to correct errors when they are pointed out. I wonder if Fordahl will be as quick, if he corrects his errors at all.

5 Replies to “Associated Press Botches a Apple iMac Review”

  1. The optical sound problem is acctually an issue with the SPDIF interface and not MCE at all. If you play PCM audio through SPDIF you are limited to stereo so therefore you probably send surround sound via Dolby Digital or DTS encoded streams directly to your speakers. Your speakers then decode the signal. The problem is that this DD or DTS stream doesn’t include volume information so it will be played back at the highest volume (controlled by the speakers). You won’t beable to lower the volume on the DVD side of a regular set up neither.

    The idea is that you should keep the SPDIF volume at the highest level and only adjust it using your speakers volume setting by programming your MCE remote buttons to control your amp. This is why the main volume on Realtek cards doesn’t lower SPDIF volume. Creative card does though, which messes this up quite abit.

    Now I prefer adjusting the volume on the computer for various reasons (mainly because I have analog audio to my bed room and digital to my home theater). What I’ve done is installed the Matrix Mixer directshow plugin and set it to output Dolby ProLogic II. This will downsample any 5.1 audio (such as WMA HD, EAX etc.) to stereo via SPDIF (which is controlled by the PC volume). My speakers are ProLogic II compatible and can then upsample this signal to 5.1. This works very well.

    Other than that, great post, as usual, Thomas!

  2. I have the standby issue as well on my MCE box – that is really my only complaint…

    It only catches me when I forget about it and press the button on the remote though…

  3. I have the standby issue as well. It goes into standby, but wakes up within 30 seconds or so. I’ve just chosen to leave my box on all the time, so it hasn’t been a high priority to troubleshoot just yet.

  4. Seb, I always love it when I’m enlightend by those who know so much more than I do. Thank you for your explanation it makes much more sense now.

  5. I found the standby issue partially related to the downloading of the guide. The guide was set to download at some bizarre time of the morning 4:00am or something. The machine would come out of standby at that time, but then not go back into standby. I thought there was a pattern there, but one night I spent several sleepless hours (MCE in my bedroom) listening to the fans spin away before getting up and putting the machine into standby again. This happened fours times, of which only one could be attributed to the downloading of the guide.
    I also had the S/PDIF issue with an older motherboard (ASUS), but when I changed my mb over (MSI) I got PCM stereo volumne changing via MCE, but not when it was outputting the sound from a DVD, whether it be in DD, DTS or PCM. But I think that relates to the PowerDVD or NVidia drivers that take control of the output of sound in MCE to some degree.
    The main problem I have at the moment is getting the nVidia or PowerDVD software to actually remember that I am outputting via S/PDIF and not stereo. It changes all the time.

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