Saturday, February 27, 2010

What can a Media Player do and why would I want one?

A media player can obviously play DVDs, it also plays all of your CDs.

Depending on its configuration, it will also pick up radio stations, allow you to watch and record not just TV (technically, I've learned that this is DVB-T... standing for Digital Video Broadcast-Terrestial) but even satellite TV (DVB-S) if I invested in a satellite dish and paid for a subscription. seems to have a bit about DVB-S, but it doesnt really look as though there is much good stuff on it for my tastes.

When watching TV, it can timeshift the broadcast easily or record it forever on a hard drive or burn it to the DVD.

You could even use Blu-ray rather than just DVD. A Blu-ray burning capable machine - at the moment, these are retailing for between 2.5 and 5 Thousand dollars. Know how much a Blu-ray burner for a PC is? Its around 250 dollars.

Even 250 dollars is bound to come down a lot, so I might satisfy myself with a DVD recorder that can only play Blu-ray - later on I'll upgrade if I need to.

The Hard drive on a commercial player is maybe 250 Gigabytes - well thats so small that its hard to buy one that small for your PC. I'm going to get at least 500 Gig and if I start filling that up, I'll get 1Terabyte or more.

That will be enough storage for days worth of recording, all of our DVDs and every CD that we have and are currently cluttering our loungeroom.

So no need to buy those unsightly cupboards for storing all of those cases. Pop them in the media centre, let it copy it to the hard drive and then store the case and actual disks somewhere else.

Mine's not going to be for playing computer games, but if I got a powerful enough processor and graphics capability, there is no reason why it couldnt do this as well.

Want to use your PC from your loungeroom for boring the rellies with photos - then put all of your photos and home video on there and have a modern version of a slide night.

Want to watch YouTube? Then get a wireless modem and use it like a normal PC - do your email, facebook and excel from your loungeroom.. other people in the family might not like that though.

Don't like using the tiny display on a DVD recorder for programming its timer? Often get it wrong? Media players have whats called a "10-foot display" that will tell you exactly what you are going to record, name it for you on the hard drive and so you'll never miss a show, nor be unable to find it once you've recorded it.

If, years down the track, something on it breaks, then no need to toss the whole lot - just replace the broken component(s). It might cost you a hundred bucks or so.

I havent really looked into the question of cable TV on it like Foxtel - most of them seem to want you to buy their blackbox as well. There might be a way to link that up and record the signal... if anyone knows, please comment here.

I do know that internet TV is becoming all the rage in the States. Sites like and seem to allow you to download movies, etc as you want to watch them.

Presumably its not free and might not work in Australia (yet)... but I betcha its cheaper than cable and you'd only pay for what you want rather than what they decide to give you. I'll look into it and get back to you.

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