CNET Compares the New Mac mini with Windows Media Center PCs

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CNETis UK affiliate on Friday posted the first round of its comparison between the new Mac mini and various Windows Media Center PCs, declaring the former "ahead so far," with more to come.

The discussion leads off with an acknowledgement that "a series of attempts to nail the Media Center concept have largely failed." In particular, the article points to the noise generated by the fan inside "the majority of Media Centers, especially in comparison to a DVD player or video recorder." While the Mac mini has a fan that turns on if the computer gets too hot, "in normal operation itis almost silent," the editors wrote.

Moving on, the article declares both Appleis Front Row and Microsoftis comparable software "glass-buttoned masterpieces and easy to navigate." However, the Mac mini was dinged for not including a built-in TV tuner, although the editors noted that "Apple probably intends iTunes to eventually usurp terrestrial and satellite TV."

The editors used the Miglia TVMini tuner with the Mac mini and said "it worked immediately, tuning into all available Freeview channels and displaying a crisp picture on our 32-inch Philips Ambilight LCD." They described it as "fast a dedicated hard-drive PVR; it records live TV seamlessly." While they had problems matching its resolution to the LCDis resolution, they described their experiences getting Windows Media Center PCs "to display anything at all on a TVi as "hair-pulling ceremonies."

They also described Elgatois EyeTV 2 software, which comes bundled with the TVMini, as "nothing short of a revelation" when it comes to recording shows and exporting them for use on a video iPod. They noted that the Windows Media Center computers canit easily export video in the right format for the video iPod.

That ended round one of the comparison, with "the Microsoft Media Center already panting in the corner of the ring." Looking ahead, theyire going to compare TV scheduling systems. "Itis likely that Microsoft will scream ahead in this respect, their PVR software is far superior to anything currently available to Mac users. Expect this battle to get dirty," the editors wrote.

[This article has been updated to note the correct developer of EyeTV 2]

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