PC Magazine Guide Windows XP Media Center Edition

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One device. One remote. If that isn't a revolutionary approach to entertainment, what is? Now a former PC Magazine contributing editor and digital lifestyle pioneer shows you how to activate all your MCE's power. You'll never again worry about missing the end of a TV show, finding that special photo, or having the perfect soundtrack ready to go. You can even say goodbye to your stereo, DVD player, and TiVo - your MCE PC replaces them all!
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One device. One remote. If that isn't a revolutionary approach to entertainment, what is? Now a former PC Magazine contributing editor and digital lifestyle pioneer shows you how to activate all your MCE's power. You'll never again worry about missing the end of a TV show, finding that special photo, or having the perfect soundtrack ready to go. You can even say goodbye to your stereo, DVD player, and TiVo - your MCE PC replaces them all!
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780764569784
  • Publisher: Wiley
  • Publication date: 10/28/2004
  • Series: PC Magazine Series , #9
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 360
  • Product dimensions: 7.40 (w) x 9.20 (h) x 0.80 (d)

Meet the Author

Terry Ulick lives on the front lines of the tech revolution. An early PC Magazine columnist, he created the first online digital photo service for AOL® and developed ways to put TV information into MSN TV, WebTV®, and UltimateTV®.

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Table of Contents

Acknowledgments vii
Introduction xvii
Part I Introduction and Setup
Chapter 1 Planning to Use a Windows XP Media Center Edition PC 3
Putting It All in One Box 3
Portrait of a Windows Entertainment PC 5
Both a PC and an Entertainment Center 5
A New Way to Watch and Record TV 6
Listening to Music and Radio 7
Viewing Your Video Library 8
Watching a DVD 8
Getting Other Content Using Online Spotlight 9
Adding More Programs 10
Going Digital: The Main Ingredients 10
Analog Content and Devices 12
Digital Media and Devices 13
Summary 15
Chapter 2 Setting Up Your Media Center PC 17
Choosing the Right Media Center PC Form Factor 17
Tower 18
Desktop/Rack Mount 19
Cube 20
Laptop 21
All-In-One 22
Media Center PC Components 23
Which Old Equipment You Should Keep 24
Computer Monitor 25
TV 25
Stereos and Speakers 27
Satellite or Cable System Set-Top Box 28
Equipment You Will Want to Get 28
Home Network Equipment 29
Media Center Extender Devices 31
Internet Connection 31
A New TV 32
Wireless Keyboard and Mouse 32
Putting It All Together 32
Summary 34
Chapter 3 The Windows XP Media Center Edition Operating System 35
Windows XP under the Hood 35
How Media Center PCS Use Windows XP 36
Setting Resources in Windows XP 36
Everyday Computing and Media Center 38
Media Center Operating System 38
Three Versions so Far 39
First-Time Setup Process 40
Summary 55
Chapter 4 Media Center Experiences 57
Media Center Start Screen 57
User Interface 59
Items on the Start Screen 60
Media Center Experiences 62
My TV 62
My Music 64
My Pictures 65
My Videos 68
Play DVD 69
Radio 69
Online Spotlight 71
More Programs 72
Settings 73
Media Center Messenger 73
On-Screen Caller ID 75
Summary 75
Part II Media Center Edition PCs and Devices
Chapter 5 Choosing the Right Media Center PC 79
Standard PCs versus Media Center PCs 79
Media Center PC Hardware Requirements 80
Media Center PC Hardware Differences 81
Media Center Remote Control 88
Network Connections 89
Final Considerations when Choosing a Media Center PC 90
Summary 90
Chapter 6 Getting Audio and Video In and Out of Your MCE PC 91
Video 91
TV Tuner Card 91
TV Sources 95
Video Cards 99
Connecting TVs and Monitors 100
Audio 101
Sound Card 101
Powered Speakers 103
Connecting to a Stereo or Amplifier 103
Getting Sound Into Your System 104
Summary 104
Chapter 7 Media Storage: Adding and Replacing Drives 105
Hard Drives 105
Internal Hard Drives 106
External Hard Drives 111
Optical Drives 112
Types of Optical Drives 113
Installing an Optical Drive 114
Summary 117
Chapter 8 Home Networks and Media Center Extenders 119
Networking Basics 119
Media Center PC as Network Hub 122
Media Center PC as Entertainment Server 122
Media Serving 123
Media Center Extender Devices 123
Installing a Media Center Extender 124
Making Extender Connections 125
Network Connection 126
Summary 132
Part III Watching and Recording TV: Playing and Burning DVDs
Chapter 9 My TV and the Program Guide 135
Display Configuration and Calibration 136
Display Configuration Setup 136
Calibrating Your Display 140
Setting Up My TV 145
Getting Program Guide Information 145
Editing Your Channel List 147
Watching Live TV 148
Turning Channels and Adjusting Volume 150
Full-Screen and Windowed Viewing 150
Using the Program Guide 151
Viewing What's On 152
Finding Shows 153
Searching for Programs 153
Customizing the Guide 155
Summary 157
Chapter 10 Recording and Playback of TV Programs 159
Recording TV Shows 160
Recorder Settings 160
Manual Recording of TV Shows 164
Advanced Recording Methods 171
Additional Recording Features 174
Playing and Managing Recorded Shows 175
Playing a Recorded Show 176
Managing Recorded Shows 179
Summary 179
Chapter 11 Playing and Burning DVDs 181
Playing DVDs 181
Parental Controls 185
Aspect Ratios 189
Burning TV Programs to DVDs 189
Bundled DVD Recording Software 190
Using Prime Time to Burn TV Shows to DVD 192
Compatibility Issues 196
Copyright and Rights Issues 196
Summary 196
Part IV Music and Radio
Chapter 12 Playing Audio Files and CDs with My Music 199
Getting Your Music Files Ready to Play 200
Content Protection 200
Setting Up Your Music Files for the First Time 201
Listening to Music with My Music 203
Playing Music Files 208
Playing and Copying Audio CDs 211
Summary 214
Chapter 13 Managing Playlists and Music Libraries 215
Managing Playlists 215
Creating Your Own Auto Playlists 218
Editing Track Information 222
Creating Playlists in Windows Media Player 225
Creating Playlists in Media Center 227
Managing Music Libraries 230
Copying Music from Audio CDs 230
Music Files that Work with Media Center 233
Music You've Bought Online 233
Summary 235
Chapter 14 Listening to Broadcast and Internet Radio 237
Tuning to FM Broadcasts 237
Connecting an Antenna for FM Reception 238
The Radio Menu 239
Creating Presets 241
Navigating Live Radio 241
Pausing and Replaying Live Radio 243
Tuning to Internet Radio 244
Summary 248
Part V Viewing Photos and Home Videos
Chapter 15 Viewing and Managing Digital Picture Libraries 251
Building a Digital Photo Library 252
Scanning Pictures Yourself 252
Using a Photo Service to Scan Your Pictures 253
Getting New Pictures in Hard Copy and Digital Format 253
Managing Your Digital Photo Library 253
File and Folder Names 254
File Dates 255
Finding Picture Files 256
Files from Your Digital Camera 257
Viewing Photos in My Pictures 257
Navigating Picture Folders 259
Viewing Your Pictures 259
Panning, Zooming, and Rotating Pictures 260
Editing Images and Printing Pictures 262
Picture Touch-up 262
Printing Your Pictures 263
Summary 265
Chapter 16 Creating Slideshows Using My Pictures 267
Slideshow Settings 267
Playing a Slideshow 270
Navigation in a Slideshow 270
Playing Music During a Slideshow 270
Fine-Tuning Your Slideshow 271
Summary 271
Chapter 17 Playing Home Movies with My Video 273
Getting Videos into Your Media Center PC 273
Use Movie Maker to Capture Video 273
File Formats for Videos 274
Viewing Videos with Media Center 275
Controls for Videos 278
Information about a Video 278
Adding Videos from a Video Camera or Digital Camera with Video 278
Making CDs or DVDs from your Videos 280
Summary 281
Part VI Expanding Media Center
Chapter 18 Adding More Programs to Media Center 285
The Launch Pad 285
Adding Programs 287
Easy-to-Find Add-on Programs 289
Examples of Add-on Programs 291
Prime Time 291
Napster 2.0 291
Solitaire 293
Gem Master 293
Otto 293
Sync to Device 293
Summary 295
Chapter 19 Accessing Internet Content from Online Spotlight 297
An Internet Portal 297
Using Online Spotlight 299
Sites Featured in Online Spotlight 300
Music Sites 301
Movies 302
News and Sports 304
Summary 305
Chapter 20 Final Thoughts about Media Center 307
Media Center PCs versus Dedicated Devices 307
Cost Comparison 307
Changing Habits 308
Media Center: A Work in Progress 309
Overcoming Media Center Limitations 309
Instant-On 310
Reliability 311
Ease of Use 311
Final Thoughts on Digital Entertainment 312
Part VII Appendixes
Appendix A Media Center PC Manufacturers 315
Appendix B Media Center PC Applications and Devices 317
Appendix C Media Center PC Reference Sources 319
Index 321
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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 19, 2004

    reprise of earlier strategies

    At last. Microsoft's long awaited (and long dreaded to some) big entry into consumer electronics. There have been earlier forays by Microsoft, like the XBox. But nothing to this extent. Ulick goes over Microsoft's ambitious attempt to be the focal point of home electronics. He shows how the Media Center Edition PC can, with suitable configuration, replace a bevy of devices. Like a CD play, TiVo, VHS player, DVD player and home stereo, and any attendant remote controls. One immediate criticism is that the name is poorly chosen. Ungainly. Cumbersome. Compare that to names like FireWire, WiFi, Blu-Ray. Who is actually going to say 'Media Center PC' or 'Media Center Edition'? These names look like a committee design. A little surprising, because Microsoft has shown skill in name choosing. Most obviously with 'Microsoft Windows'. So that if you say 'windows', most people now associate it with Microsoft, even though X-Windows predated it by years. As to the actual technical capabilities shown in the book, it seems competently done. Each major task is probably outdone by existing products devoted to that task. Like the playing of audio files and music CDs. Or the playing and burning of DVDs. But vendors of those products should not be complacent. Each task implemented here seems to have been done with a minimum level of functionality that might be enough for most consumers. Microsoft is gambling that the integrated convenience will outweigh any loss of little used, high end functionality. Sound familiar? This is a reprise of how Microsoft revved up its Windows in the 80s and 90s. Or perhaps more cogently, how it used the integrated aspect of its Office suite to overtake competitors offering only specific products and not a suite.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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