Microsoft's working hard to get people believing in its Windows Embedded Standard
platform as a real set-top box contender and one of its vanguard devices is the above Gateway Media Console. It's still a concept product in the Acer / Gateway labs, but what it promises to deliver makes us wish it hurries up and makes the leap to retail nice and quickly. Based around a Sandy Bridge Intel CPU, this machine runs Windows Media Center and gives you access to all the internet-connected content that you can enjoy on your Windows 7-equipped PC, but it also boasts a InfiniTV 6 CableCARD
tuner that permits up to six HD broadcast TV streams at a time. Those can then be networked out throughout your house -- whether over a wireless or wired connection -- and then recorded on whatever laptops, desktops or other Windows devices you have lying around the house. The end result is that the kids can be recording a pair of channels upstairs in their bedroom while you watch the football game in the living room and your mother-in-law enjoys whatever she's into down in the basement -- all coming in from the same, single coax cable plugged into the Media Console. There's a hidden optical drive as well and Microsoft tells us this thing could range between $500 and $700 when it does eventually make its way out for sale.
Gateway Media Console with CableCARD and Windows Embedded Standard 7 hands-on