Wednesday, December 08, 2004

Paul Thurrot's XSled Review

At long last, here's Paul Thurrot's review of the new Xbox Media Center Extender (codenamed "XSled"). A Media Center Extender is something that you connect to your second (or third, etc.) television so that you could use your Media Center PC for more than one TV. XSled is Microsoft's first software-based extender. You basically install the software to your Xbox and it can now act as an extender.

Turns out that there are a few very disappointing design mistakes in this release. Hopefully, by the time I actually have enough money to buy a Media Center...and an Xbox...and an additional TV set...and a home network...and...where was I?

*scratches head*

If you want to enjoy Media Center content in other rooms, you'll need a home network (wired, preferably) and, yes, a Media Center Extender. That $250 to $300 price is exorbitant, yes, but until recently, it was the only way to go. However, starting in late November, Microsoft started offering a software product for its Xbox that makes the video game console look and act like a Media Center Extender. The best news? It's relatively cheap, at about $80, so if you already have an Xbox, you're saving big bucks. If you don't have an Xbox, it's still relatively cheap: An Xbox costs $150, so when you add the cost of the Extender software, it's still cheaper than a standalone Media Center Extender. And here's one final gimme: That Xbox, unlike a standalone Media Center Extender, will play DVD movies too. It's a no-brainer, right?

Maybe.