Pros When they work they are good
Cons Worst Customer Service EVER
Summary Customer Service - the worst ever!!! - Worst Customer Service on the Face of the Planet
I have 3 HP computers, and three HP printers. I WILL NEVER BY ANOTHER HP PRODUCT AS LONG AS I LIVE!!!!
It is now July 2005 – my problems began in April 2005 – so we are taking about a period of 4 months!!!
Problem 1: Computer will not turn on (it is less than 2 months old).
They say oh well we’ll send you a box pack it up and ship it to us. So I did. They send it back, claiming that they tested it, and I get a computer back that is missing the memory card (therefore, it will not boot at all). So I call and of course they can’t just send me my memory chip they have to have me send the computer back to them again. So I do. And they send it back (supposedly testing it first) and I again get a non-working computer. So I send it back again, and they send it back again, and you guessed it, it still doesn’t work. So then I get to talk to the Sr. Quality Manager, HP Executive Customer Relations Management who guarantees me that I will get a working computer. So again I send it and finally they send me a working computer. But now they had the computer as long as I did.
One of the other computers dies. The CPU fan crapped out and the computer will not let me boot. So I call…and again I am told that they can’t send me the part (even though I told them I could easily install a CPU fan myself). So I wait for the box, send the computer back….AND GET THE WRONG COMPUTER BACK!!!!! Then when I call I am told they have no idea where my computer is (after being put on hold for 3 HOURS ) but they will have someone call me back. When they never called back I called them, and again am put on hold for 1 AND ½ HOURS. They then claim my computer was at their service center the entire time (BULL) and that they haven’t had a chance to fix it yet (BULL) and that I need to send the computer I got back before they can send mine to me. Which I understand the having to send the wrong one back first, but I then ask if I can at least have something in writing saying I will defiantly get my computer back. I am then transferred to a case manager….
The case manager tells me he can’t guarantee I will get my computer back. I asked why and he said he can’t with certainty guarantee that it won’t end up lost in the time it takes for this computer to get back. So I then say well can you at least guarantee me that I will get my computer or one of equal or greater value back. I am told that the only guarantee he can give me is that I have to pay taxes and die. He stated that they do not have to give me any computer at all. That yes my warrantee covers repair or replacement but that doesn’t mean they have to get it to you once it is been replaced. He then continues to yell at me and cut me off every time I try to speak and called me stupid for even asking that they do something to smooth over their lack of service because they have already gone out of their way. By what losing my computer and sending me a computer that was in non-working order 5 times!!!
"Great Device!"on by esgrillo
Pros Everthing in one place, sleek look, easy connect
Cons remote not great (no learn feature), need to keep it cool, occasional need for reboot
Summary Fit the bill for me as a perfect compliment to my stereo equipment and allowed simple conversion of all my CD's and videos to an electronic library plus is great for music control while entertaining.
I have my z555 connected to two TV's (one outside) and with some additional hardware (IR extender) I have a pretty slick set-up that I can run my Z555 and stereo amp from either location. The integration of MCE to Napster is a real asset to me as well since you can easily set-up an endless stream of music. For my outside/poolside entertaining it is great. The song playlists from any digital music you have local on the machine and on Napster integrate seamlessly. The first time one of my friends or neighbors sees me changing the music from my lounge chair outside via my outside TV and an IR extender to the Z555 which is running Napster or a local digital playlist, I always get a "how'd you do that" look. Neighbors agree this is a great gadget and are very impressed when you ask them what do you want to hear and with a few clicks you can stream any Napster song. All as you continue to sip your cold one.
I do strongly recommend that you get a different remote. The included one does not have a learn feature so you will add to the remote pile if you do not make a change. I found the that the Logitec Harmony 680 remote works perfectly with MCE (even has the green button). This remote is an awesome device. It has a USB connection that you attached to PC/laptop to access the remote and Logitecs online programming site. You select the devices you have from the online database (cable box, TVs, reciever, etc) and the USB interface is use to upload to the remote. The best thing is that it has basically unlimited custom programming options and soft keys on the remote to use them easily. The remote has a LCD screen to make it easy to use as well. I have "one touch" program buttons that for example turn on the outside TV, switch the TV input to Video 1, turns on stereo, switch the speakers outputs to "B", and has the Z555 go to My TV output. It is the only remote you will need for your entire stereo package. I know that it is a lot of info about a remote but trust me it is a must and no I do not work for Logitec!
Some "not so goods":
Need to keep it cool. The instructions say do not put in an enclosed cabinet and they are not kidding. The z555 in combination with a good amp/reciever generates HEAT! You need an open cabinet or powered venting (my only choice) to keep they z555 cool.
The unit needs the occasional reboot...it is running windows afterall So it can be a problem if you have everything running throught the z555. To get around this run an output from your cable box direct to your TV and another to the z555 so you always do not need to have the z555 just to watch TV.
Overall I recommend the z555. It is not perfect but it is the best option out there if you looking for a great integrated look with your stereo equipment and all in one digital media control.
Pros Lots of audio/video options
Cons Airflow is critical
Summary This is a beautiful system. I bought the MCE PC 2 years ago, and because it was a PC, it stayed in my home office. Now that this is the same size as a VCR, its in the family room. I took the Tivo out, and the DVD recorder out, and hid the cable tuners in the back as this provides cables/IR transmitters to change the channels. So my video center looks real, clean! An AMP, the MediaCenter, and the TV.
Beautiful! I'd recommend the personal media drive so that you can copy lots of personal content to the machine.
It comes with an external WLAN antenna so that you're not buying a linksys WUSB12, but you will need to buy an s-Video to Composite video converter if you want two identical comcast cable boxes to connect.
The user manuals are really detailed, well written, and are explicit in their cable diagrams. Hats off to the technical writers; these are good manuals, and I was reading them online before the box arrived (in less than a week!)
You shouldn't compare this MC to a Tivo. I have Tivos and for $400 with service, they're great. But a MC is so much more. Its a PC in the living room, internet radio, pictures, videos, recorded and live tv, dual tuners. what isn't in here? and i read in this review that the graphics card is great for games! bonus!
For your nontechnical elders, who use the mouse as a footpedal, get the Tivo. But for the techy gadget fan, like me, this is the dream system, but it takes a technical aptitude to navigate the Windows PC, which you don't have to bother with when using a Tivo or Comcast DVR.
Included cables aren't enough, you get an HDMI cable, but not a lot of others, so you'll likely be down at the store getting some extra cables, composite or component.
The remote is fine; the keyboard beats entering text from the Tivo remote; and heck; you have a PC in the living room. But beware that text doesn't look great on any CRT tube, so I'll likely be buying a plasma shortly.
This is like a dense 2u server; heavy and hot! Plan on cutting the back off your cabinetry to allow the heat that this little powerhouse generates to escape.
Its quiet, and if it does get hot, the fan speeds up like a server, and if that's not enough, it shuts down to protect itself. Since I cut the back off my cabinet, its consistently quiet.
Summary: Gadget fan, PC in the living room, high tech, get this PC.
Non technical, get a Tivo or Comcast DVR.
Pros One component, do-it-all solution
Cons Heat, and just a touch expensive if not on sale.
Summary I have been trying to build my own Home Theater Personal Computer (HTPC) for the better part of five years now. I've tried two different chassis, 4 video cards, ever increasing hard drive space, and I don't know how many different shareware apps to get it to do what I needed. Got an okay, but never a great, solution.
Then I saw this jewel. WOW! I was sold immediately. Add to that that it was on sale. Where to start?
Instead of a tower sitting in my floor, now I have a sleek unit that matches the rest of the stereo equipment. Looks good in the rack! The display is nice and bright, and adjusts for day or night lighting conditions.
The TV recording is awesome, much better quality than I was getting with my previous attempts. And the fact that it has three different inputs gives me plenty of flexibility, including HD over the air antenna input. That will be tested shortly.
The Windows MCE 2005 interface is so easy to use, it passed the WAF (Wife Acceptance Factor) test easily! I had to spend weeks explaining how the old one worked (not that she isn't smart, I made it too complicated). This one she's picked up on her own. It's that simple to use!
Plenty of storage available for my MP3's and recorded programs. I love that the compression is user-selectable on the fly. I also love that the Electronic Program Guide (EPG) is freely downloaded, no subscription like TiVo.
It's a bit pricey, but it can be had on sale at HPShopping.com. Also, it generates a lot of heat when running, so make sure your ventilation is sufficient.
Bottom line: If you're considering setting up an HTPC, this is a great way to go! Easy set up, simple user interface, tons of powerful features. Nearly perfect!
Pros If it worked as designed, everything you need for entertainment
Cons Problems, problems, problems with no good support for them
Summary I bought my unit in July, 05. Installation and configuring the unit took ALL DAY, with at least 4 hours on the phone with HP support (including working with senior support folks) just to get it functioning at a basic level. From the beginning I experienced problems. A few of the more serious ones are listed below:
1) television picture quality with my older Sony Trinitron is terrible. The support person working to help me configure the unit eventually simply said, "well, it is a DIGITAL entertainment center," when we couldn't get the picture right. Given that I have digital satellite service and the set top box provided by the satellite provider gives me a crystal clear picture on my TV before I hooked up the DEC, I was not pleased by this response. If the satellite tuner get give me a good picture, I can't see why the DEC couldn't as well.
2) The unit is supposed to work like a TIVO for recording broadcast programs, and allow you to do things like pause a live broadcast to answer the phone or get a snack. Well, on my unit, pausing causes the program to freeze, skip and otherwise freak out. The only cure is to turn the unit off and restart. Of course, I don't use the pause feature any more.
3) For music, this unit comes with iTunes, and also a way to list, play and organize your music that has been imported into iTunes on they're Media Center. Importing my CD's into iTunes worked perfectly well. When I view the "my music" selection in the media center, my individual albums are duplicated, with the play lists segmented among the duplicated listings. So for a given CD with 12 songs, there will be two or three entries for the CD, with one or two songs with one entry and the rest of the CD on the other.
4) Making playlists on My Music is an important feature for me. I find that while I was able to make a couple of playlists when the unit was new, I no longer can. Its not clear why, but, it is another frustration.
These are just a sample of the issues. Calling HP support, which I have had to do MANY times, is an uneven experience. Often the help is good. However, they have not been able to resolve the issues I've listed above.
Given the price of the unit and given that what this product does is to combine technology offered in the past as different products (that is, it contains proven technology) the problems I've encounted are inexcusable. This product was not ready to be put on the market. I would return the z555 and get my money back if I could. Knowing what I know now, instead of buying the DEC, I would get a Tivo and a good iPod with accessories to play my music off of my home stereo instead and save myself a ton of money and frustration.