If you want the ultimate HD media machine, it is hard to beat Vista Media Center. Seriously, you've got HD CableCARD
support, HD DirecTV tuners are right around the corner
and for less than $300 you can get a dual format HD DVD and Blu-ray drive
. And no matter what your feeling are about Microsoft, it's hard to argue that the Vista Media Center isn't a pleasure to use. But the are a couple of caveats that are keeping us all from the ultimate HD media experience. The first -- which should be just a matter of time -- is the lack of support for any of the next-gen audio codecs
, but the second might not ever happen. Vista Media Center
can seamlessly playback DVDs, HD DVD or Blu-ray discs require a 3rd party application. Sure, it still works, but the overall flow is lost. Many had hope that eventually MS would come around and at least add native support for HD DVD, but considering the Blu-ray spec requires BD Java -- and we know how much MS loves Java -- MS insiders like Chris Lanier don't think it'll ever happen. So if HD DVD does go away only leaving with Blu-ray, we might not ever see the ultimate HD media experience all in one box.