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Version 2 Media Center Extenders In Testing

Microsoft’s Eric Anderson says that he is using a prototype Windows Media Center Extender at home, one of the version 2 (codename: Pika) variety, the first Extender that works with Windows Vista that isn’t an Xbox 360. He gives few details on the device, save that it has a media pipeline that can handle media types that previous Extenders couldn’t handle, so long as the hardware is capable. That means that his particular prototype, because it could play back DivX video, the Extender could play back DivX in Media Center.

It’ll be wonderful for Extenders to finally be able to do more, given the annoying limitations in the past. An extender that can play DivX, XviD, and maybe other types of popular video codecs without the need for workarounds or hacks is a wonderful thing, enough maybe to even get me to buy one. Of course, the real thing Microsoft should do is add the Pika software to the Xbox 360, since the 360’s current Extender technology is hopelessly difficult for the average user.

According to a year old post of Chris Lanier’s that Eric points to, the dev kit Extender, made by Sigma Designs, supports MPEG-4 Part 10 (H.264), VC-1 (WMV9), MPEG-2, MPEG-4 Part 2 (DivX/XviD), Dolby Digital, WMA/WMA Pro, MPEG-1/2 Audio, AAC and MP3.

Our partners that are building retail product choose what features (wired and/or wireless, audio outputs, etc) + formats they will support. As it happens, the prototype device I’m using does support divx - and have I mentioned just how cool it is?! :) You’ll just have to wait to see their press releases, but if what I’ve seen is any indication, you won’t be disappointed!

(via Ed Bott)

June 28th, 2007 Posted by Nathan Weinberg | Vista, Media Center, Windows | 2 comments



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2 Comments »

  1. >> Of course, the real thing Microsoft should do is add
    >> the Pika software to the Xbox 360, since the 360’s
    >> current Extender technology is hopelessly difficult
    >> for the average user

    What the heck are you talking about? The 360 extender uses exactly the same interface as Pika, and as Windows Media Center.

    I love how you throw these little comments in that reveal how little you know about the subject you’re writing about.

    -> unsubscribe

    Comment by Andrew | June 28, 2007

  2. A: Who are you and what do you know about Pika?

    B: Pika is still in testing.

    C: I wasn’t talking about the interface, I was talking about the underlying code and the more advanced capabilities built into that.

    D: Pika is likely more reliable as an Extender than the 360 is, because the 360 is an 18-month old product with a slew of problems that make connecting to Vista Media Center difficult. Pika is unreleased, and thus has fixes for problems the Xbox 360 faces. Pika products can play DivX/XviD natively. There are differences.

    Pay attention, okay?

    The software in the two may be similar, may even be different editions of the same codebase, but there are differences between the two. I want the 360 Extender to get better, as does every Media Center enthusiast. There are things the 360 should be able to do, could be able to do, but isn’t able to do, and the user suffers. I just want it to get better.

    Comment by Nathan Weinberg | June 28, 2007

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