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The Evolution of the Media Center PC

In the fall of 2000, HP and Microsoft had a vision for a new kind of personal computer and operating system. This vision would allow consumers to manipulate and store all their digital content and converge many of their digital devices. It had to be fresh and different, and reflect the changing dynamics of the digital world we live in. The vision went well beyond adding bells and whistles to traditional PCs; we needed to build the system from the ground up. It needed to be a system that consumers could use to enhance their digital entertainment experience, yet still use and interact with in a “traditional PC way” for everything from surfing the Web to sending email.

The result was the HP Media Center PC, a groundbreaking PC that combined HP's innovative design with the Microsoft Windows XP Media Center Edition operating system. The HP Media Center PC unlocked the door for an entirely new market of PCs with an additional suite of home entertainment features that could be enjoyed in the traditional two-foot experience, as well as by remote control from across the room like most consumer electronic devices. When it was released in October 2002, the excitement around this new PC category far exceeded everyone's expectations.

The New Digital Experience

There is no question that the influx of digital devices has truly changed the way we live. For instance, I know quite a few people who swear their personal video recorder is the best invention since sliced bread—they can't imagine life without it. And you can scarcely leave the house these days without seeing someone rocking to the music from an MP3 player or snapping pictures from a digital camera. Paper calendars are quickly being dismissed for electronic organizers, and DVD players continue to lead as one of the hottest-selling consumer electronics devices. The world is definitely going digital—and people like you are leading the way.

Since you've purchased this book, you must be one of the tech-savvy, early adopters who is very interested in purchasing a Media Center PC, or have already purchased one.

You will be thrilled to find that Media Center PCs are the first solutions that enable you to combine your digital content and devices—allowing you to control your pictures, music, videos, and television from one central location with one remote control. No doubt you'll be more than happy to cast away that pile of remotes on your coffee table.

You will be able to record all 162 of your favorite major-league baseball team's regular season games; set your child's last track-and-field meet to the music of Chariots of Fire; burn a CD of your favorite tunes for your next big road trip; email digital photos to your mother; and download and set your favorite music to your cell-phone ring. Remember, you can do it all from this one system, instead of separate ones. (Note: HP does not support the recording and playback of protected broadcasts. HP products should be used for lawful purposes only.)

The Media Center PC even makes your old subscription to TV Guide passé—because you can quickly retrieve broadcast information nearly two weeks ahead of time off the Internet. Just set your Media Center PC to record, and be on your way.

The Future of the Market

The Media Center PC should continue to evolve into a management hub of your home digital entertainment universe. Connecting through home networks and new classes of devices, such as digital media receivers, consumers can stream content from their PC to anywhere in the house where their electronic devices reside.

And one of the biggest limitations we can expect to see in this new class of entertainment PCs, oddly enough, may not even be technology-related. As the digital content market and devices continue to evolve, so does the very public discussion over Digital Rights Management. There is no doubt that this will be a long and challenging dialog that may ultimately change how and what consumers download.

You Be the Judge

We encourage you to push these machines to their limits and get the most out of the digital entertainment experience they provide. This book definitely equips you with all the tricks and tools to do so.

Be sure to contact your manufacturer to give feedback on how the product is working and say what improvements you would like to see in the future. As consumer users of this new class of PCs, you are the best and only sounding board that truly matters, and you have the greatest impact on where the future of these solutions will go.

But more important, have fun and be creative. Become your own personal DJ, or the “Steven Spielberg” of personal home videos.

The biggest limitation on these PCs is your imagination. So, let it run wild.

Duane Zitzner,
Executive Vice President, Personal Systems Group
Hewlett-Packard Company

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