Wired names best media center: Apple 20-inch iMac with Front Row

“Adding a computer to your home theater no longer means crossing your fingers and hoping for the best,” Dylan Tweney reports for Wired. “The downside is that configuring these computers – with the exception of the iMac – is a real challenge. Set aside at least half a day to integrate one of these monsters into your entertainment system.”

Tweney rates Apple’s 20-inch iMac highest (4 out of 5) and writes, “You gotta hand it to Apple: The iMac has just about the easiest setup we’ve seen. Everything is integrated into a single, beautiful package, with no monitor, speakers, or remote control receivers to plug in, and no software wizards to stand between you and your new Kung Fu box set. Its Shuffle-like remote is an uncluttered joy to use with the included Front Row software, which lets you browse pictures, music, videos, and DVD menus. The 16:10 widescreen is vivid and clear, although it struggled with shadow detail in the dark opening scenes of The Shawshank Redemption. The same case holds a built-in webcam and some surprisingly respectable speakers. But if you want to send video to your TV, you’ll need a $19 adapter. And the iMac doesn’t allow you to watch and record TV out of the box – for that you’ll want Elgato Systems’ EyeTV 250 ($200).”

Full article here.

[Thanks to MacDailyNews Reader “matt” for the heads up.]

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  1. I’ve been using a Mac mini as media station for a few months. I don’t use it as a regular computer, so I don’t miss having a display (apart from the TV, that is.) The iMac is too big to fit in my cabinet anyway.

  2. yeah I been using a mini the same way. It rocks connected to my Sony flatscreen. Also, the TV shows I buy from iTMS look freakin great on the huge screen! Who’da thunk it?

    I have the most badass setup out of all my friends. Front Row ROCKS!

  3. Yeh man, this is a really good media center, well it doesn’t record and play back HDTV but that’s cool, get a 3rd party product, and it doesn’t connect to your HDTV directly, but that’s cool, go get an adapter, it’s all sooo easy man. and yes, it does have a 20″ display which is a bummer that you spent that extra money just to connect it to your HDTV but that’s really not a problem man, and you can’t rack it up with all the other media components, but that’s not really a problem man, hey my hands are soo big, look at all the colors, wow man, yes, I’m almost finished with the article man. nobody wants a media center that just works out of the box man. does anyone have any food, lets go see what’s upstairs in mums fridge man…

  4. Steve Jobs made it clear at the stockholders’ meeting that Apple was working on a media center. The bulk of the software is already here and that is being tested by you guys who use Macs as media centers and send in comments to Apple or make comments on sites like MDN. Some users complain that the 802.11g connection is marginal for 1080p performance, so I expect a real media center — one branded by Apple as a media center (iMedia perhaps?) — to wait at least until Apple switches to 802.11n.

    Blue Ray is another issue that needs to be resolved — availability of BR players and BR content.

    And the problem of limited Internet Bandwidth and the place of iTunes demands a long term strategy to approach the delivery of BR video content. How that will be resolved, I do not know, but I hope Apple is investigating that super compression scheme that was discussed in an article several months ago.

    The iMac for this use has no mass market potential. I am guessing that Apple wants a cheap box, similar to the Mac Mini, but without any computer features not needed for the media center mission. It has to be ready to advertise them and pump them out when it announces them to lock in the market. Apple, go drive wooden stake into the MS vampire’s heart.

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