If you are thinking about buying a media extender center or a mini HTPC, you should first understand the two devices. The differences of these devices include the compatibility, functionality, ease of use, and more. Understanding the differences between these devices will help you choose which is right for your needs.
The media extender center is a device designed to be configured by a network link, attached to a computer running Microsoft Windows XP, Vista, 7, or higher. The media on your computer can be viewed from a display device like your television.
This device allows you to stream media center functions like
– listen to music
– watch television
– and even take advantage of the functions of a DVR
The Mac Mini HTPC is designed for Apple software. You can use this device to store all the media files directly inside the system and get the best from it by using it with a Mac OS X operating system.
However, don’t run out and buy the Mac mini HTPC because you love the look and feel of it if you use Windows. You might consider buying a another computer such as Acer Aspire Revo if this is the case.
Proper codecs installed out of the box?
The media extender center was first designed to work with the Xbox 360 and allowed for people to use their Xbox to play video games, listen to music, browse photos, connect it to their computer, and to a television, while playing games on the web.
The newer extenders allow for people to use more than just an Xbox 360 but the Samsung MediaLive, HP MediaSmart, Linksys, and more. Some of the different types of consumer electronic devices the media center extender can connect include blu-ray disc players, HDTV’s, DVD players, and other hi-def players. Most computers with the compatibility of a media extender center already have the proper codecs installed in the operating system.
The Mac mini requires you to install the codecs on the computer so you can play all of your content without a problem. The best codec is called a supercodec, named Perian. This is the first piece of software you should install when using a Mac mini HTPC.
If you want to play Windows or Microsoft files, you will need to use a plug-in to be able to stream them too. The best plug-in is free and known as the Flip4Mac. Install the Flip4Mac and the Microsoft Silverlight for Macs. This will allow you to stream high quality video and even movies from Netflix. Without the plug-in software, you won’t be happy with the quality of the content and in some cases, unable to view.
Focus on compatibility, not on price
The Media Extender center is designed for Windows operating systems. The Mac mini HTPC is designed for Mac OS X operating system. You might buy one of these internet television devices if you are interested in streaming data and videos onto the big screen, from a video game, or more.
Be sure the system you choose for a media streaming device is compatible with the type of computer you currently use. Don’t buy because it looks cool or because the price looks right.
Continue reading about our media center usage assessment to determine whether media extender or home theater computer is the right choice for you.