AP Media Extenders and the Wired (or Wireless) Home

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Explanation of Media Extenders and the role they may one day play.

gadgets, gizmos, media center

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If you ve been online reading lately about digital home entertainment equipment, a phrase that you may be seeing more frequently is media extender . This refers to a device that essentially extends the reach of another media source such as a DVD player.

The more common usage of this term is describing a Media Center Extender, which refers to a device that lets you stream features from a PC that is running Windows Media Center 2005 to other devices such as televisions, radios, and personal audio players.

These Media Center Extender boxes essentially serve to let you make use of some Media Center PC functions directly on your television rather than having to run to a different room in order to set a video playing on a display screen downstairs as previous, more primitive media throwers or other makeshift solutions permitted.

The most famous Media Center Extender that is presently available is certainly the highly touted Xbox 360. Microsoft s latest foray into the world of console gaming systems is now capable of interfacing with a Media Center PC to provide room-to-room entertainment via either a 100 Megabit wired home network or a wireless one, such as 802.11b or other standards. It cannot send media in reverse, however (from the Xbox 360 to the Media Center PC), which is still a very rare feature among media extenders of any kind due to copyright and other concerns.

Summarily, if you have a Media Center PC with an extensive library of legally-obtained music, video, and other media on this computer, you certainly may have a use for the Xbox 360 s Media Center Extender capabilities, or for one of the other media extenders on the market (offered by LinkSys and other tech manufacturers).

If you ve been looking for an effective way to bring digital media to each room of your house without having to burn and re-burn CDs and DVDs, media extenders may be the brand new technology for your wired (or wireless) home!