|All of us knows about Microsoft Window XP Media Center Edition (MCE), but what actually makes up a full featured media center? There are a couple of main features and then a few less important ones. |
The main features
The media center belongs in our living rooms and should replace most of the equipment connected to our flat screen (preferably high definition) TV. Thus the main feature of the media center should be to allow us to watch TV. It should be able to receive TV signals form cable, satellite dish or a standard TV aerial - and it shouldn't matter whether the signal is a digital video broadcast (DVB) or analogue. Secondly, it has to be able to play DVDs.
So now you are able to view everything just like you normal TV and DVD player. But in order to replace all equipment connected to the TV - it has to be able to record TV as well - just as any old vcr or digital video record (DVR). And in order to compete with today's high-end DVRs, it has to be able to record one program while you watch another - or watch a previously recorded program. Also recordings should be scheduler through an electronic program guide (EPG), so that you don't need to consult your tv-guide booklet.
These features are all supported in MediaPortal for Windows, MythTV and Freevo both for Linux.
The other features
the following features are not as important as the main ones - but nevertheless they are important for making it a true media center.
Playing your favorite music or navigating through your photos through your media center is essential for sharing your own taste and creations with friends and family visiting. Many media centers also have additional applications that allow you to check the weather and play games - all on your big screen tv in your living room.
Again these features are supported by the open source projects previously mentioned.
But what about MacOS?
Now we have listed the main and additional features that will make up a perfect media center, but none of the mentioned projects are available for MacOS - is this really true?
After extensive research we have not been able to find any open source media center projects for Mac that support the main features. However, two projects exist that does allow you to play video, watch photos and listen to your music. These are: CenterStage and iTheater. But until they support standard television viewing and recording, they are not considered as a full media center. We hope that this will change - or that other projects appear to fill this hole in the MacOS open source environment.