We're coming at you a few days late this week, but we promise we weren't slacking off -- Ben took a trip to Microsoft to get the lowdown on Media Center initiatives, which he shares on this show. During his trip, he saw the DirecTV HDPC-20 in action alongside a smorgasbord of other gear, some identifiable and some not so much. Speaking of Microsoft, we talk about the Xbox Experience and the appearance of HD Netflix's Watch Instantly titles -- the selection isn't great yet, but the quality is there. This move really gives Xbox 360 a leg up on the competition, and Microsoft's Shane Kim (no relation to Steve, by the way) crowed about that this week; and our readers seemed to agree with him in this week's Ask Engadget feature. DISH will let you add USB storage to its ViP211 DVR for a "mere" $40, which while pricey is still better than a stick in the eye. And that's exactly what the newspaper editor who claims he can't see an improvement in Blu-ray picture quality must have caught, in our opinion. We admit that even price cuts may not be making Blu-ray decks fly off the shelves, but picture quality isn't a valid reason to hold off on the purchase. Apparently, people don't feel that being "bound" to physical media is a reason to nix Blu-ray, either, as this week's MOTO (master of the obvious) survey finds that people actually prefer discs to streaming. That's good news for Oppo's rumored BDP-83 Blu-ray player; but even if it decodes every format under the sun, a pricetag upwards of $400 might put a damper on things. Netflix has officially declared the format war is over, and will stop carrying HD DVDs in mid-December. No week would be complete without mention of VUDU, this time the rack-mountable XL2 version gets mention on the podcast. LCD prices are definitely in a free-fall, but we wonder what they would be if not for the price fixing that LG and Sharp admitted to. No such luck for those hoping to join club KURO, however, as Pioneer's rebranding of Black Friday as "KURO Friday" rings utterly hollow.
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Hosts: Ben Drawbaugh and Steve Kim
Producer: Trent Wolbe
01:10 - Comments from Engadget HD Podcast 111 - 11.12.2008
12:16 - The Media Center DirecTV HDPC-20 caught in action
22:10 - Xbox Experience now available to all who signed up, Netflix HD streams too
25:05 - Microsoft exec touts HD streaming over discs, suggests Xbox 360 will outlast PS3
28:09 - Ask Engadget HD: Best gaming / movie console: Xbox 360 or PlayStation 3?
29:49 - DISH Network (finally) offers ViP211 DVR Upgrade option
31:46 - Editor ponders: Do you need a Blu-ray player?
36:16 - Blu-ray player price cuts not spurring huge sales... yet
38:05 - Research finds that people still heart physical discs, greatly prefer Blu-ray to streaming
39:55 - Oppo teases BDP-83 Blu-ray player, offers no vital information
42:31 - Netflix no longer carrying HD DVDs as of December 15th
44:03 - VUDU XL2 brings on-demand films to rack-mountable enclosure
47:04 - LG, Sharp plead guilty to LCD price-fixing, take $585m fine
48:58 - Pioneer rechristens Black Friday "KURO Friday," won't lower prices