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  • Review
  • TAG : Ceton Echo: Windows Media Center Extender
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  • The cute little Xbox Extender packaging () seems right at home alongside other Xbox accessories, though I have to wonder whether normal people will understand what it does, exactly, and that you must have a new Media Center PC (or an older unit that was upgraded to XP MCE 2005) in order to use it.

    The cute little Xbox Extender packaging () seems right at home alongside other Xbox accessories, though I have to wonder whether normal people will understand what it does, exactly, and that you must have a new Media Center PC (or an older unit that was upgraded to XP MCE 2005) in order to use it.

  • The software includes two disks. One is a DVD that you place in the Xbox in order to make it behave like an Extender. It doesn't load any software directly onto the Xbox hard drive, which is a huge oversight in my opinion, but rather requires you to manually insert the disk every time you want to use the Xbox to watch TV or access your other Media Center functions. The second disk is a PC-based CD-ROM that loads the Extender software onto your Media Center PC. This software, which I discuss briefly in my , first lets you link an Extender to a particular Media Center PC (in the same way that you might link a Bluetooth device to a particular Bluetooth-equipped PC), and then provides utilities for managing, updating, and troubleshooting an Extender. The software you get with the Xbox Extender is identical to that which Microsoft's partners ship with dedicated Extenders, so there's no advantage in installing one over the other. If you have already installed a dedicated Extender on your network, you can simply boot up the Xbox with the Extender disk insert and then run the Media Center Extender Manager on your Media Center PC to add that device to the list of connected Extenders.

    Surprisingly, Microsoft also ships a decent set of documentation with the Xbox Extender that walks you through the process of setting up the software on both the PC and the Xbox. It also discusses some of the pros and cons of various network connections. For example, a wired Ethernet connection is always best, but if you must use wireless, Microsoft recommends an 802.11a network (which most people don't have). Naturally, it will also work with an 802.11g network, though this type of network has much bigger problems with interference than 802.11a and is, in my experience, almost completely unacceptable (the Xbox Extender will not work over lowly 802.11b connections).

  • As for comparing the Xbox Extender to dedicated Extenders, it's a familiar experience (). The Start screen and other UI elements are all identical (), and in day-to-day usage, the Xbox Extender is basically identical to a dedicated Extender. Given the fact that the Xbox also lets you play back DVD movies (not to mention an ever-growing library of impressive video games), you may think that purchasing an Xbox Extender (if you already have an Xbox) or even an Xbox and an Xbox Extender, is a better choice than purchasing a dedicated Extender. Unfortunately, this supposition is incorrect. That's because the Xbox Extender falls down in four critical areas.

The Ceton Echo is a next-generation Windows Media ..

The cute little Xbox Extender packaging () seems right at home alongside other Xbox accessories, though I have to wonder whether normal people will understand what it does, exactly, and that you must have a new Media Center PC (or an older unit that was upgraded to XP MCE 2005) in order to use it.