If you think media center PCs have to be tricked out with all the bells and whistles—and cost a small fortune, plus the fees from installers, wiring technicians, and home theater “consultants”—MediaReady wants you to think again, offering inexpensive media center PCs which may lack the high-end features found in snooty home theater setups…but then, most of us don’t have snooty home theater setups, do we?
New to MediaReady’s line is the MediaReady MC, what the company is touting as the fourth generation of its budget-friendly media center line. “MediaReady remains at the forefront in digital home product development and the launch of our MediaReady MC will bring a whole new level of simplicity for our customers,” said Jeffrey Harrell, MediaReady CEO, in a statement. “With a MediaReady MC, any television is now capable of easily finding, managing, recording, and playing the best of broadcast television programming as well as a host of emerging broadband entertainment services.”
The MediaReady MC integrated personal video recording capabilities with an electronic program guide, Internet browsing and download capability, support for CD and DVD playback, digital photo and music management, plus email and instant messaging capability. The specs make the MC a little underpowered compared to the high-end media centers you’ll see on the market: an unspecified 2.8GHz Intel processor, 512 MB of RAM, a 200 GB hard drive, 100Base-T Ethernet, USB 1.1 and 2.0, FireWire, CD/DVD drive, and a wireless RF keyboard with built-in trackball to let you surf the net from your couch. The MediaReady MC supports CD Audio, WAV, MP3, FLAC, Ogg Vorbis, and AAC playback, handles MPEG2 (SD and HD) vide, as well as MPEG4, AVI, and DivX, and offers a Web browser, email client, and AIM instant messaging—optional Skype support is also available. The MC can also handle Flash, Real, and other streaming media formats, making it even simpler to surf YouTube on your TV.
For outputs, the MC sports S-Video, VGA, DVI, and component video out; on the audio front, the system has stereo RCA input and output, along with S/PDIF outs with Dolby Digital/DTS pass-through.
Notice what’s missing here? No HDMI output—although DVI may get you by—and any mention of Microsoft Windows Media Center Edition.
The MediaReady PC will carry a suggested $899 price tag, and should be shipping by January 2007.