Pros It's Basically Windows XP Professional plus Media Center Program
Cons You need third party software to edit, and transfer TV to DVD
Summary My original configuration was MCE 2004. But a month after I purchased my computer from Sony, MCE 2005 came out. After a very noisy letter campaign to Sony, they offered an upgrade DVD for people like me had bought MCE 2004 which was pretty crappy. It had very unstable, and unreliable recording.
MCE 2005 is much better, and works 98% of the time. They gave the public a three month window to buy it for $9.98 which included FedEx delivery, to upgrade to 2005 You really need at least 1 GB of Memory. You load your music and pictures like any other WinXP computer, and Media Center automatically imports it to the Media Center program. But it is remote controlled, and has large fonts. Window Media Player with a mouse is more convenient at your desk, but from your couch the remote is pretty cool. Music section os Media Center is setup just like Media Player, Albums; Playlists;Search which is just horrible. But you really need an organized Windows Media player to use Media Center. Your music, video, picture files they all have to be in good order. One last though for ultimate use you need two tuner cards.
Pros Allows you to stream video through Xbox 360
Cons Extremely unpolished product.
Summary I've been a faithful user of Snapstream's excellent Beyond TV for 2 years. I decided to install MCE 2005 after buying a Xbox 360.
I thought that I would be able to use the 360 as a media center extender through my wireless network and cut the cord from my pc to the tv.
I will say that MCE and the 360 work as advertised, I can now stream music, photos, video, recorded and live tv through the 360.
Unfortunately microsoft's recording software is utter and complete crap. MCE only supports two analog tuners (I have 3), it has consistently recorded shows at the wrong time, and will record the same episode over and over again. Rather than search for a later showing of the same episode it will generate a conflict when more than 2 shows are on at the same time. I now just use BTV to record my shows and use the 360 to play them as videos.
The kicker is that I also have a laptop running MCE 2005. You would think it would be a simple matter to stream live tv through the laptop (like Beyond TV), think again. In fact, the laptop MCE doesn't interact with the desktop in any way, I can only play recorded shows as videos through my Shared Docs folder.
I also agree with Dirty Al, the copy wright restrictions are ridiculous. If you have Divx videos on your HD you can forget it, The Xbox 360 can't handle divx. There's a transcode fix you can install, but the resulting video looks awful.
If you're looking to build or purchase a media center PC, and you don't have an xbox 360 I can't think of a single reason you should use MCE 2005.
Pros concept, Windows XP foundation
Cons Never could get any of the Media center features to work. Severe problems in recognition and having to re-install various software
Summary I bought an HP Pavilion desktop with MCE 4 months ago, and have had nothing but problems with the OS since I plugged it in. The Media Center software wouldn't recognize my tuner card. The screen saver will only work on the Welcome page. Software installs get buggy between profiles. It's been a severe headache. Do yourself a favor -- stick with Windows XP Home or Pro editions for now.
Pros Record live TV and watch it later!
Cons Saves in dvr-ms format.. . . which takes minimal brain power find a program to convert it
Summary After reading reviews on Windows MCE I was very unsure whether or not to purchase it. However, after owning it for about two weeks now I can't possibly think of living without it!!!! I don't even watch live TV anymore! I got a 300 GB hard drive and just program Windows MCE to record my favorite shows! Now whenever I can spare some time, I watch my favorite shows, I don't have to make time for them anymore.
Also, I was concerned that the dvr-ms format that Windows MCE saves in would be a problem. Don't worry, it's not! Installed with it is the option to convert any program to DVD! To make things even sweeter, after searching on Google for 2 minutes I found 2 programs that not only convert the dvr-ms formats to friendlier files such as vob(DVD),avi or mpeg, but also found a program to convert and play the file on my smartphone! All for free!!!
It’s a joke that people find the dvr-ms format difficult to deal with . . . if you’re having trouble search Google, read some forums, all answers can be found within 10 minutes!
"Wonderful OS!"on by andyslaptop
Pros easy to use; slick interface
Cons picture on pc not the best
Summary Overjoyed I got the Windows media center edition. And now that Microsoft isn't goint ot launch Vista till December of 06, I am so glad I didn't wait!