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On Friday I was overjoyed to see that my Xbox had arrived. I'm very impressed with the service and the turnaround time from Microsoft. Friday night I hung out with Justin, Jon and Grace to celebrate Grace and Justin's birthday and I finally got my LAN cable from Jon. It wasn't Jon's fault at all but I've been a tad lazy about it and pretty darn busy. So now I finally have internet on my desktop. I had been wanting to set up Xbox Media Center for a long time and now I finally could.
Before I really got going with setting up Media Center I got hooked into Bionic Commando: Rearmed. I loved Bionic Commando when I was a kid and this takes the old game and somehow makes it even more awesome. The game looks great and the new features are a lot of fun. It's well worth the 800 Microsoft Points.
Once I pried myself away from my grappling hook adventures I set up the Media Center Extender on the Xbox. It was a really simple setup process and once I got it going I started listening to my music collection which was pretty cool. Then I browsed through some of the online content options which included all three seasons of Arrested Development as well as content from TVTonic. TVTonic, in addition to its own internet video channels, allows you to add any video podcast feed you want. It also included exclusive Olympics feeds. The coverage is really great and in addition to a basic highlights channel they have channels for many different sports. I subscribed to the Basketball feed and watched a couple of the games in their entirety. I also checked out the whole Opening Ceremonies. Everything looks great on my TV.
The one minor problem with Media Center Extender is that unlike the Xbox itself, it can't stream Divx files. There are some programs and hacks out there to allow playback through the Extender but I tried one and couldn't get it to work. Instead I just set up Media Sharing on Windows Media Player and watched a couple TV shows through the Dashboard. The Divx files looked pretty amazing on my TV and there was no stuttering or anything like that. I'm very impressed.
Since I got a free month of Netflix as part of a settlement from something that happened with them awhile back I'm going to hop back on the Netflix train. While Microsoft did announce that you will be able get your Watch Instantly library through the dashboard sometime this fall, you don't have to wait until then. You don't have to buy a Roku either. All you need to do is download vmcNetflix and follow these instructions.
Now that I've got all this stuff going, my 360 has become an all-in-one entertainment solution. I certainly won't miss cable TV. It's kind of amazing to think how far home entertainment, broadband internet, and console gaming have come that all this can be possible.
As you know, I do all of this just to be a geek but I found media center extender to be “eh.” The netflix option is great, thought it was a bit problematic on 64bit Vista, but I find myself being a snob and wanting my Blu-Ray (RIP HDDVD, you were my first love.)
HTPC though is the way to go. That is until I give in and buy Madden 09 this weekend only to get the crap beat out of me by a 8 year old.
I am still very jealous of your Blu-Ray player. Yeah, the media center extender is a little slow and the fact that it can’t play Divx out of the box is pretty much BS but I love the Netflix deal. Also, it’s nice to play my music in the living room when I’m reading or what not. The speakers on jon and Grace’s old big screen are surprisingly adequate. I might buy Madden this weekend as well, so you can go head to head with me instead of that 8 year old who will kick your ass and call you a little bitch while doing it.