I’ve had a Vista machine setup for over a year whose sole purpose is to record my television shows, and I have to say that I’ve fallen deeply in love with it. Prior to owning the Vista Media Center computer I was using a ReplayTV unit to do the recording, and I didn’t think that it got much better than that. The model that I had included a commercial detection feature so that it would automatically skip past commercials as it came across them. I loved it!

When I got the Vista Media Center the ReplayTV was put on the back burner because it was leaps and bounds better than the ReplayTV. For that reason it is actually very easy for me to pinpoint five reasons why Vista Media Center is so great:

  1. Appearance
    Vista Media Center looks really amazing, and I give the designers mad props for making it everything flow so nicely together. I especially love browsing movies that are on TV because it shows the box art for each of them.
    vista media center
  2. WebGuide [Homepage] [Review]
    This is a free add-on created by a developer who was hired by Microsoft after the add-on really started to take off. With WebGuide you’re able to remotely access your Media Center computer through a website. You can remotely schedule shows, browse the television guide, or even stream content to your computer.
  3. DVRMSToolbox [Homepage] [Review]
    As I mentioned earlier being able to skip commercials has become an important part of my television watching experience. This free software will let you do just that, and it is extremely configurable which is something power users will love.
  4. Tuner Extender [Homepage] [Mirror] [Review]
    I recently bought a dual-tuner to add to the single HD tuner that I already have installed in my computer. Vista Media Center will support up to two tuners by default, but it is actually capable of handling many more. The only problem is that you won’t be able to add more than two tuners without using this special application. The fact that I can have three tuners simultaneously recording shows is awesome, even if it does take a little tweaking!
  5. Xbox 360
    A few weeks ago I decided that I wanted access to my television shows in another room, and I was trying to figure out the best way of doing that. I decided on purchasing an Xbox 360 because it serves as Media Center Extender, and with that I’m able to access content from any Media Center machine that is on the same network as the Xbox. I have to say that Microsoft did a great job with the Media Center Extender technology, and I’m extremely happy that the commercial skipping still works even on the extenders. Oh, and I get to play Halo 3. ;)

If there’s one thing in Vista that I really want to applaud Microsoft for it would be the Media Center aspect. It has never really crashed on me, is very extensible, and there is quite a large community surrounding it. I can’t wait to see where Microsoft takes this in the next release of Windows.