CenterStage vs. Apple’s Front Row

CenterStage is an open source project to build a powerful and intuitive media center application for the Apple Macintosh, this project was inspired by the launch of the Mac mini, an ideal Mac to use as part of a home theatre system.

Today, Apple released Front Row software included in the new iMac G5 which, combined with the new Apple Remote, makes it easy to navigate through all the digital goodies you’ve collected and created. Early versions of CenterStage resembled Apple’s Front Row.

We’re seeking comments from CenterStage users regarding how they believe Front Row compares. Do you think Apple’s new Front Row will affect CenterStage’s development, especially if Apple plans to expand Front Row to other Mac models, as we believe is inevitable?

Will the effect on the CenterStage project be positive or negative?

More info about CenterStage here.
More info about Apple’s Front Row here.

The New iPod with Video.  The ultimate music + video experience on the go.  Buy it now at the Apple Store. From $299. Free shipping.
The New iMac G5 – Built-in camera and remote control with Front Row media experience. From $1299. Free shipping.

Related MacDailyNews articles:
Apple’s Front Row with Apple Remote and iMac G5: media center done right – October 12, 2005
Apple introduces new thinner iMac G5 with built-in iSight video camera, ‘Front Row’ media experience – October 12, 2005


  1. Too early to tell. Looks like Apple has the leg up on simplicity (four familir icons, menus like an iPod) and the remote control is a bonus (of course you can buy one). The killer is that Apple has the distirbution channels and so forth so Center Stage will at best be a hack/alertative. CS will have to work out a way to make their solution appeal to people who want more/different control over their content.

    What is with the Crucial Memory ad model? What is that expression? Is she high? Ellen Fiess’ sister or something?

    MSN word: alone

  2. Well I downloaded centerstage 5 minutes after seeing front row. Looks good. Doesn’t do anything. Really: no music, no movies, no photos, no preferences… nothing loaded except the UI. Good idea but I think they’ve just been beaten to the punch – at least as soon as Apple let’s other machines use Front Row.

  3. I can just hope that Apple releases a centerstage version ASAP that works with Keynote. Would be a godsent for a presentation where you could use the main window to dial between different presentation etc. Oh I forgot, Keynote only gets updated once every 15 months.

  4. I’ve been watching Center Stage for several months. At its current development pace it will be ready to do something in about another 2 years. The head of the project has been grossly without help until fairly recently. The lot of them are to be commended for their concept but too much time has been wasted on foo-foo interface elements instead of developing a working basic app that improves the Mac Mini as a media server.

    It is very interesting that Apple is testing the media center market after a long standing SJ policy against such things. The new iMac and Front Row are just a test balloon, the opening salvo as it were (or is). Apple appears to be positioning the iMac as a replacement TV set. Lets hope the next rev to the Mac Mini improves its capability as a media server. I have one on my TV with a 400G firewire drive filled with about 80 movies. It’s nice to have a lot of content to watch without commercials – much more compelling than stuff we get off the satelite.

    I’m curious to see what the 320×240 iTunes video looks like when scaled up to fit on a computer screen (I’m expecting crap but it will depend on how good the video was encoded and the quality of the content they started with). 320×240 is roughly 1/4 the image size of NTSC standard definition analog television. I’ve scaled that up to 640×480 and it looked acceptable provided we started with Broadcast quality. Scaling it on up to 1024×768 or worse, 1280×1024 is probably going to be weak at best. I suppose it was necessary to make the encoded programs this small in order to minimize file size.

  5. Center Stage is an ALPHA, not even a Beta yet. Load Center Stage & Back Stage and your Movies will come up and play within the UI. It also will support Codecs Apple will never likely support. Runs fine on every Mac I’ve tried it on, from G3-G5. If you are a developer, they can always use some more.

    Release Notes for CenterStage 0.4.1
    This version is classed as an alpha release.

    Alpha releases have an incomplete feature set and will contain bugs.

    Functional modules
    Settings partially working

    Release Notes for BackStage 0.4.1
    This version is classed as an alpha release.

    Alpha releases have an incomplete feature set and will contain bugs.

    Improved video playback (again)
    All DiVX formats (old or new) should work now
    seeking has been improved
    language switching is supported

  6. I don’t know why some people are saying “I can’t wait until Apple does” such and such.

    What is wrong with 3rd parties writing software for the Mac, like Centerstage. Sure, they may be an Alpha and may have stagnated a bit (one of the perils of Open Source) but if/when it is finished it will be much more powerful that what Apple has put out.

    In fact, it angers me a bit at Apple’s lack of innovation when it comes to anything other than their OS (and hardware design). Perfect example of this is Konfabulator. Konfabulator is so much more powerful and (IMHO) much nicer than Apple knock-off. However, now that Apple bundles their knock-off into the OS – Konfabulator is going to get much less play. Why is it that it is OK for Apple to do this, yet everyone screams when Microsoft does it?

  7. Seriously? Alpha? No. Not at all. Have fun ever trying to pass software like that off as Alpha in the real world. Its stuff like this that gives open source a bad name. The open source model is more capable than propietary business models, but we don’t make it appear as such when we hold things to different standards – Alpha should be feature complete but with bugs. Beta should be feature complete with no major bugs. After 9 months CenterStage is still in a development phase and Alpha looks to be a long way off. Granted, it is very pretty, but the functionality is just not there.

  8. Hello…

    I am one of the staff members of the CenterStage project. In fact I am the guy doing the graphics for it. Better know on our forums as Mucx.

    Firstly, I have read through all the comments here and I personally cannot argue with any of them really. What CenterStage has lacked is support from day one. Realistically we have around three very talented people with limited time trying to do this and the going is slow.

    Personally, I think the visuals are fine, the look fine, the concept fine but again we lack the people needed to implement it all. The architecture of the program although I am told is both impressive and complex has real capability to be built on.

    Secondly, I am not surprised in the least that Apple have made this move. I could feel it in my waters, we all knew that a video iPod has been demanded for a long time, apple couldnt ignore this and delivered. We all knew that Apple should take the home enviroment, produce a media center and apply it’s style and simplicity, and do it properly. What we are seeing today may not be exactly what we want (no output to TV) but it is a tentative toe in the water to judge reaction and consumer wishes. I could bet my house (ok flat that I dont own lol) that same time next year we will have a Apple Media Center that works in the same way, if not better than WMC.

    The question you may ask me is where does CenterStage fit in all this? Well, it is hanging on the edge…honestly I feel it could spell the end. It has the opportunity to provide so much more than Apple could. At the moment from a personal point of view, I am uncertain what is going to happen. I have been utterly frustrated at times with plenty of ideas and no direction. I can design…I can produce great looking visuals, I can lay things out logically (the UI needs a kick start again at the moment though)…but we need help.

    This is the most honest and open I have been publicly about our project. We have something stupid like 40,000 hits to our site every day. I am sure Apple know this…they would have done their research and come across us. I have been contacted by software companies such as 2wire asking questions…we drummed up a bit of good PR but not personel.

    I think CenterStage could have a future, it is Open Source, it has the ability to go beyond the obvious limitations Apple cant touch (PVR, games/emulation as basic examples), I want our project to be more than simple little code tests packaged as Pre-Alphas, what we have given so far seriously isnt good enough, in fact it most likely pisses people off.

    I wanted the project to be in Beta by now, I wanted to have around 10 different talented graphics people with different skills helping to narrow down the UI, producing visuals and wrking it to a good standard. We wanted the same for the programming side of thing…a few guys working on each core module (Movies, Music, Photos). Instead we have me for the graphics (one person…5 hours a week if Im lucky), one additional talented designer who has very limited time for the project and one sometimes two programmers.

    That is the bottom line. That is as honest as it gets.

    Now the question for you all is. Do you want us? Do you think we have something to provide you? Do you want a Media Center that will go beyond the basics Apple can provide? Do you have experience in programming or Interface builds? Do you want to get involved? If you do then you know where we are…all the help we can get is appreciated. Visit our forum, get the guy you know from down the street who has the talent if you dont to give us a look.

    David McLeod

    (…and if you dont know where we are, lol >

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