HP Media Center PC: Now with CableCARD and HD-DVD/Blu-ray drive
Well folks it’s finally here! A reasonably priced ($1330 without HD optical drive and nvidia 8500GT video card) CableCARD PC compared to other high-end offerings from the likes of Niveus Media ($3199 for low end HTPC + $1499 for CableCARDs). It can be configured with a nvidia 8500GT 512MB video card for an extra $180. Why is that such a big deal? The 8500 and 8600 nvidia cards support Purevideo HD, which offloads 100% of H.264 content to the video card. Some HD-DVD and Blu-ray disks are encoded in H.264, and with the help of this card a lower powered PC can enjoy that HD goodness. Even Niveus Media still uses the nvidia 7xxx cards, which do not support Purevideo HD. It is important to note that Purevideo HD is only supported in Vista, and XP support is supposed to be coming soon. Unfortunately, many other HD-DVD and Blu-ray movies are encoded in VC1, and this card does not support full acceleration of VC1.
I was pretty excited to read about it this offering from HP this morning until I discovered that it only can be configured with one CableCARD tuner. What’s up with that?! I’m sure people, including myself, would pay more for a dual CableCARD tuner PC. Hopefully HP will start offering a second CableCARD tuner. If that ever happened I’d have to teach myself a lot of self restraint. I’m quite happy with my TiVo Series 3 and Beyond TV setup, but the gadget freak in me would have a tough time resisting a reasonably priced dual CableCARD media center PC.
Filed under: HDTV, HTPC | 18 Comments