Apple TV vs. Media Center Extender

Everywhere you look that has comments about the Apple TV are comments about how stupid you'd be to buy an Apple TV and how smart you'd be to buy a Media Center Extender, specifically an Xbox 360. Here are 5 reasons why I chose the Apple TV over an Xbox 360.

  1. Availability - No, I don't mean the fact that the Apple TV is finally shipping. I mean that you can use an Apple TV with any computer that can run iTunes. That's a lot of computers. That covers about any Windows or OS X computer built in the last 3 or more years. On the other hand, to use an MCE, you need Media Center (MC). According to Microsoft, you can't install MC. You have to know you want it, and buy it up front, assuming the computer you want even has the option.

    I have a really powerful Windows XP-based computer. Can I upgrade it to be a Windows Media Center-based PC?
    Unfortunately, no. While a PC running Windows XP Media Center Edition 2005 is also a powerful Windows XP-based computer, Microsoft does not retail Windows XP Media Center Edition 2005 as an upgrade. Windows XP Media Center Edition 2005 is only available pre-installed by PC manufacturers or qualified computer system builders.

  2. Size - This matters to me. You might have a huge entertainment center, and I do to, but not with the TV that I want to run the Apple TV with. To me, the Apple TV is perfect for its small size and integrated power supply. The Xbox 360, while more capable, is gigantic. It has an external power supply that is nearly as big as the Apple TV itself. I don't want another power brick to hide. The cord is bad enough. Ignoring that power supply, the Xbox 360 is still nearly 4 times the size of the Apple TV.

  3. Power consumption - Apple TV has a 48 watt supply. The Xbox 360 has a 160 watt supply. Save money and the environment :) with an Apple TV!

  4. Cost - Apple TV is $299 and plenty of folks say that's far too much. Xbox 360 with a hard drive is $399. The Xbox can do a lot more than the Apple TV, but we aren't really discussing that here. We're discussing the video playback functionality. If you want to use that Xbox wirelessly, add on $89 for the adapter. Another $20 for a remote. If you aren't going to buy games for the Xbox then it doesn't look like that great of a choice for Media Center Extender.

  5. Store Tie-ins - I like the walled garden of iTunes. I don't want to trade money for points that I can trade for content. Folks are quick to point out that the Xbox can play Divx, xvid, exlax, exwife, and xterra. That doesn't matter to me. I don't download shows over bittorrent (yet?), so being able to play the latest ripper codecs aren't a selling point for me. The iTunes garden does have a big swinging gate. If you can get content in to iTunes, it sounds like the Apple TV will play it. I plan to use that gate to get my purchased DVDs into iTunes.

1 comment:

Ben said...

Like you said. They are built for 2 different applications. The power supply differences might be due to the increased horsepower required by the XBox for gaming. Since you are looking for a media driven system, you really don't need that extra power. Think of it like buying a F1 car to drive to work. I will be curious of what you think about the Apple TV once you get some time behind the remote. I really hate reading reviews by people who feel the first thing they should do is take it apart. The inside does not make me want to buy it anymore.