Saturday, June 16, 2007

Fifteen months of mediacenter and counting

We bought a dedicated VCR form-factor mediacenter 15 months ago.

It was definitely a lot more expensive than a normal desktop PC, but we decided to bite the bullet and see whether having a mediacenter was the complete paradigm shift that friends told us about. So far the experience has been like a two-headed beast. Or maybe I should say, our mediacenter PC has been behaving like a two-headed beast.

Our friends were right about it being a paradigm shift. As Americans have known since the introduction of the TIVO, once you get a PVR your whole TV watching experience changes. Since there's so much that changes, I'll make a list of it:

  • I never surf channels anymore.
    I do surf the electronic program guide (EPG) a lot in return though, searching for programs that I'd like to record. But somehow that feels like less of a waste of time. :-)
  • I record entire series, instead of just watching an episode.
    Can you imagine never missing an episode of CSI again? I can.
  • I hardly ever watch live TV anymore.
    When I feel like watching something, I just browse through the list of recordings. With on average about 30+ hours of recorded TV on the mediacenter, there's always something that I'd like to see. So the only things I watch live now are news and sports events.
  • Commercials? What are those?
    As soon as a commercial block starts, it's next-next-next-next.... then back a few seconds and I'm done. I can actually tell whether the show aired at prime time by the number of times I have to press next. And I seriously haven't watched more than 5% of the commercials I used to watch. Admitted, I might miss some very funny commercials. But then I'll see those on YouTube, instead of them interrupting my shows.
  • The quality of TV programs doesn't suck.
    I found out that there's actually a lot of good and fun programs on TV. Just not when I want to watch them. Or actually... they're now always there when I want to watch them.
  • It's the content that matters, not the channel.
    I really watch a lot of shows now on channels that I never used to watch. Then again, I watch shows now without having any idea of the channel I'm watching. Remember: I'm not surfing channels, I'm selecting a show by name from the list of recordings.
As you can probably tell, I like the mediacenter experience a lot. In fact, within months of buying it I was really certain that I would never go without having a mediacenter again. So what's up with the two-headed monster then, you're wondering? Well, that'll have to wait until tomorrow.

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