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Brett Bentsen - A look at the Portable Media Center

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Here's a look at Microsoft's new Portable Media Center with Brett Bentsen, product unit manager of the team that built the Portable Media Center.

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  • Oh where to start! I love the entire idea of these things but theres a few things that will stop me from buying them.

    A. It's $500! I'm living on my own and studying and working i cant afford that much for a really nice toy Smiley But oh well guess ill have to save up for it. This is alot like the tabletpc's they all cuss that the units are selling... well hate to say it but it could be because you cant get one for anywhere near 1000$ which is what most people i know are looking for effective portables at really good prices with the economy as weird as it is these days.

    B. I have heard from some reviewers the device just seems a tad too large, just large enough not to fit confortable in your pocket but i guess thats the designers fault. That creative unit seems to be the nicest one that i have seen for portability but that ... umm i think it was samsung one looks too much like a little tv i cant see people walking around or sitting at the airport with it.

    C. I've heard the screen is really crisp on that creative, but just wish it was 4" Wink LOL I know its nitpicking.


    Hopefully someday we'll see a tv encoder built in to one of these can you imagine that plug it into the tv set to record and walla your done. Who knows maybe slide in a SD card with some pictures on it and it saves them to the device, Can you imagine that the device usable even without a PC Smiley

    Wow i just noticed Im first reviewer for once!
  • fatboy_aufatboy_au itnewslog.​com
    I really like the creative device and MediaPlayer 10. Also it's great news that Microsoft have opened the Media Center up and allowed just the TV tuner cards to be added to whitebox machines. I also think Chris's idea of having the device as an independent recorder sounds like a good idea yet I think the Xbox Extender boxs should to the trick.

    The only thing missing from the device which is a bit of a let down is that they do not incorporate the Microsoft Voice Command software which I use everyday on my Pocket PC to query my music via voice when driving to work. The Voice Command software on the Pocket PC could possibly be the best application for the Windows Mobile platform. Considering that the Portable Media Center and the Pocket PC are almost identical in regard to sepcs I can't see any reason why this marriage would not work out perfectly.

    MSInbox.com #

    -Cameron
  • Ok, I don't have a Media Center PC. I don't think I'm going to be getting one soon. I do have a TV card, and I'd like to be able to use the TV feature in Media player 10.

    What do I need?

    I'd defo get a PMC if I could do this with my current PC.
  • That menu system looks clunky and difficult to use... not intuitive in the least. I'm not massively impressed with the device. I mean feature wise (video, music etc) it is very nice but not very easy or pleasing to use.

    You could also extend the battery by removing the useless background and shutting down the screen outside the menu. You could and should also shut-down the screen when your playing music.. But if creative want to keep people happy with flash effects rather than a functional device then I guess this is what you end up with.

    I assume a lot of the problems with this device are down to the producer (creative) and that the 'portable media centre' is capable of being changed and having other menu setups.   


    I know I would want to be able to re-write my portable media player (And yes I would look for that before I buy, and it is a selling point) so I would be looking at Linux devices but Microsoft could win me over if I could write C# apps to customize it. Smiley

    I also prefer to transfer stuff using traditional folders (or directories) and being forced to use WMP to transfer things would piss me off no end.

    Brett: Nice DS9 in the background =)
  • MisterDonutMisterDonut The Disco Godfather
    Preface: I have not seen the video yet... I will once my new Media Center PC comes in next week.. Smiley


    I'm seeing a few replies stating that there are some design issues (being able to fit into a pocket, etc..).

    I certainly hope Microsoft realizes the impact of a poor physical design. Despite being primarily a software shop, the joe-shmo user will see a poor design / price / etc., and dismiss "Microsoft's" product. And if ever asked or told about it, their response might well be like "Don't buy Microsoft's portable media center, its too big. (or what have you).

    My point being, factors outside of Microsoft's software will influence the perception of Microsoft's software. I hope this is taken into consideration.

  • It's a nice device, I got to play with one back in June. My Pocket PC can do just about everything this device can do, except I have to swap-out SD cards for memory.
  • MisterDonut wrote:
    I certainly hope Microsoft realizes the impact of a poor physical design. Despite being primarily a software shop, the joe-shmo user will see a poor design / price / etc., and dismiss "Microsoft's" product. And if ever asked or told about it, their response might well be like "Don't buy Microsoft's portable media center, its too big. (or what have you).


    I think your *really confused. The device is made by Creative. When people buy it they are buying a Creative device and thus it is a reflection on Creative.
     
    I assume the visual look and feel of the Media Centre software can be customized by the vendor and as such the customer shouldn't have any clue what the device is running.

    The physical design of Creative's device does NOT reflect on the software in any way, shape or form. To suggest that it does is silly, it is like suggesting the colour of a PC case reflects on how well Windows XP functions..
  • lucidlucid Best Browser On Earth
    Manip wrote:
    That menu system looks clunky and difficult to use... not intuitive in the least. I'm not massively impressed with the device. I mean feature wise (video, music etc) it is very nice but not very easy or pleasing to use.


    How in the world did your tiny little brain ever conceive to use the word "intuitive" in your post. You're an idiot. how does one make a menu "intuitive"?

    I don't even have time comment on your other stupid rambling.
  • lucidlucid Best Browser On Earth
    Manip wrote:
    lucid wrote:How in the world did your tiny little brain ever conceive to use the word "intuitive" in your post. You're an idiot. how does one make a menu "intuitive"?

    I don't even have time comment on your other stupid rambling.


    Then don't comment.

    I assume an 'idiot' is someone that has an opposing view point to your own. I find it ironic you posted in order to attack me and call be 'stupid' and an 'idiot' but in doing so managed to make yourself look like one.


    I'm still waiting for you to tell me what clasifies something as "intuitive"...

    Do you even know the meaning of the word?
  • AcidHelmNunAcidHelmNun Would you like fries with that?
    I have heard from some reviewers the device just seems a tad too large, just large enough not to fit confortable in your pocket

    That's my feeling too. I have used a pre-release Samsung PMC and it is so much lighter, the Creative feels like a brick by comparison.
  • 2 Questions:
    1) When will the sync cradle be available?
    2) Could you guys adjust the video downloads from here such that I don't have to re-encode them to go on my PMC?

    Thanks.

    TheTodd
  • lucid wrote:
    How in the world did your tiny little brain ever conceive to use the word "intuitive" in your post. You're an idiot. how does one make a menu "intuitive"?

    I don't even have time comment on your other stupid rambling.


    Then don't comment.

    I assume an 'idiot' is someone that has an opposing view point to your own. I find it ironic you posted in order to attack me and call be 'stupid' and an 'idiot' but in doing so managed to make yourself look like the very same.
  • I would describe an intuitive menu as a 'smart menu' that tries to guess what the user to likely to be doing and helps that user complete it. So instead of providing a raw list of all possible items it provides common tasks that make it a lot more user-friendly.

    An example of this is the Microsoft personalised menus. As it learns what you use commonly it will start stripping out all unused items and thus your menus become more intuitive.

    - I really want to know why you’re so concerned / upset about my vocabulary. I believe you consider yourself smart but yet I presented you with a new word which upset you because you place yourself so much above the rest of us.


     

  • MisterDonutMisterDonut The Disco Godfather
    Manip wrote:

    I think your *really confused. The device is made by Creative. When people buy it they are buying a Creative device and thus it is a reflection on Creative.
     


    I'm not *that* confused.. Smiley  I realize that it's creative's job to make a, well, creative device. But my point (perhaps I wasn't too clear) was that the "masses" are likely to think of it as a "Microsoft invention" and thus warrant many feelings (good or bad) against Microsoft.

    This is what I've seen in the past, especially with Windows OS (If a Hard Drive goes bad, darn that microsoft.. I should have bought an Apple). While totally unfounded (and I try to stick up MS where I can), that attitude is out there, and it is prevalent.

  • That post about the menu system is really not exactly a good way of looking at it. The menu is the exact same as people know and use in the media center with some intuitive ways of getting to songs and tracks etc which is alot more effective than a long tree menu etc such as well lets see... Every other non PMC device?

    As for being smart THE DEVICE doesnt need to be smart thats what the "smart playlists" are for, i have seen it in use and works well i mean it takes work but all good things do i mean if i set up my priority's correct in the auto table and add things like "Newest Music" "My highest rated music" and highest rated videos etc then in essence my entire PMC is getting exactly what i like. If i get a new video and god forbid i take the 1.2 seconds it takes to click the stars to say i really like it 5 stars then its gonna be on my device waiting for me the next time i sync up. I find that to be EXTREMELY intuitive.

    Now i hate to say it but we're working with Media here it cant be like the windows start menu, why you ask? Because its MEDIA, what do you want it to have 1 link to 1 song because i decided i wanted to listen to it on repeat 20 times and its the only thing  i listened to for 2 days? Umm no i want the device to have the most important things that i find relivant (the smart playlist synced) What are you planning on doing syncing songs you dont like? Or videos you dont want to watch? I couldnt imagine sitting there trying to find a video that i havent watched in a week or so and have to expand menu's just to find it because i havent watched it yet.

    Its not a shortcut to a program i dont use often its a media platform displaying the music and videos etc that i want.

    As for the comment on the device saving battery power while playing mp3's etc it does power the display off or were you not paying attention when he had to keep hitting the arrow key to wake the screen up. In fact it seems the display is quite smart in turning off itself (except when its trying to get filmed then it gets shy and turns off at awkward moments Smiley)

    Also i hate to admit it but its a 1.0 device pmc isnt even really out in full swing yet i'll probably wait till next year t o buy one when the prices fall and we get more refined v.2 stuff Smiley But then again im so attracted to the darn thing i want one now Big Smile

    Someone mentioned that they had the samsung one it looks light but it looks.... large like it wouldnt even fit in a pocket is that true or is it a falsehood of my screen lol... As for the creative looks heavy but sturdy like a sony psp Big Smile
  • Sven GrootSven Groot Don't worry... I'm a doctor.
    Manip wrote:
    I would describe an intuitive menu as a 'smart menu' that tries to guess what the user to likely to be doing and helps that user complete it. So instead of providing a raw list of all possible items it provides common tasks that make it a lot more user-friendly.

    An example of this is the Microsoft personalised menus. As it learns what you use commonly it will start stripping out all unused items and thus your menus become more intuitive.

    I disagree. Although for the Start Menu the personalised menu worked quite admirably (and the Start Panel works even better), for Office I think the personalised menus are the worst thing ever to have happened to it. Menus that reshuffle themself will screw up your spatial memory, and spatial memory is an important aid in being able to use any device or piece of software with any kind of speed. I for one am really, really glad that this is one piece of the Office UI that never made it into Visual Studio. Of course, this remains an opinion, and ymmv.

    I like the idea of the "horizontal parent menu" that is shown here. Indeed it'll allow you to easily browse other albums/artists etc. while viewing information at a greater detail.

    If you're so intent on smart menus, I'd prefer them the way WMP's Auto Playlists work - i.e. using additional lists for often played or highly rated content. I wouldn't like it to go around hiding stuff in the normal menus.
  • I was going to post the exact same thing, but then I saw Sven's message.

    Manip, you're really, REALLY wrong on that menu thing, it works very intuitive, and the horizontal parent menu is a GREAT thing.  Just try it before commenting here, you'll love it.  Believe me, personlalized menus are NOT a good thing for browsing through music, the menu system of Media Center works like a charm, I'm sure many usability studies have been done, and they all prove you wrong.

    Also your other point that using a folder structure would be better than using WMP10: that is SO NOT TRUE!!!!!!!  WMP10 was designed to make this task a breeze, and to use your words, it works very very much more intuitive than copying files with explorer!

    These things are not a matter of personal opinion, it has been thought through very well, and it just works this way!  So please think twice next time before making such comments about things that you actually didn't design or test yourself.
  • moofishmoofish Living in Scotland, UK
    how many adverts are there in US TV, i bet lots. WinMCE should have the functionality to cut ads, or pcm's should - that would save space. what about built in software (pcm) that you press the forward button twice and it knows when the ad's are over!
  • AcidHelmNunAcidHelmNun Would you like fries with that?
    how many adverts are there in US TV, i bet lots
     
    Correct, but notice that the skip-forward feature jumps by 30 seconds. Most TV ads are multiples of 30 seconds in length. Wink  (Now if only we could find a way to get rid of in-show product placements... ugh.)
  • I have no clue if US TV has this feature.. but here our videos have this thing called Video+ (Video Plus) or something like that. Basically the TV guide lists the codes for all the programs and when your video recorder 'detects' the show (or code) it will start recording.

    My point is that adverts don't get recorded because they don't have a code. Now, if someone could bulk buy some Video+ chips and build a SCART lead mod they would be able to block the sound and or the picture for all non-program footage. Thus giving you a very effective ad blocker.
  • WaqasWaqas Waqas
    great .........

  • I was wondering whether the PMC software was written in .Net?

    Also does the creative device come with a stand or do I have to hold the device for the duration of my film (I may have missed this in the video) ?
  • The one made by Samsung and the iRiver version both have a built in kickstand to hold it up while watching. The Creative one comes with a protective case that can be opened and will hold the unit up while playing. If you don't use the protective case you have to hold it the whole time.


    TheTodd
  • RhelicRhelic Drink up, life is short
    I'd rather buy a $299 Dell Axim and a $199 memory card.

    Or if you're poor, $199 Dell Axim and a $99 memory card.

    It will do more and cost less.
  • I got the Creative PMC and i love it !
  • Michael Earlscerkit Just another programmer
    moofish wrote:
    how many adverts are there in US TV, i bet lots. WinMCE should have the functionality to cut ads, or pcm's should - that would save space. what about built in software (pcm) that you press the forward button twice and it knows when the ad's are over!


    Advertisements are what pay for the show.  I don't think you'll see any major corporation advertise the removal of ads.

    The "30 second skip" feature is there so you can skip past the "boring parts".  Let's leave it at that and keep moving.  Wink
  • Michael Earlscerkit Just another programmer
    Manip wrote:
    That menu system looks clunky and difficult to use... not intuitive in the least. I'm not massively impressed with the device. I mean feature wise (video, music etc) it is very nice but not very easy or pleasing to use.

    You could also extend the battery by removing the useless background and shutting down the screen outside the menu. You could and should also shut-down the screen when your playing music.. But if creative want to keep people happy with flash effects rather than a functional device then I guess this is what you end up with.

    I assume a lot of the problems with this device are down to the producer (creative) and that the 'portable media centre' is capable of being changed and having other menu setups.   


    I know I would want to be able to re-write my portable media player (And yes I would look for that before I buy, and it is a selling point) so I would be looking at Linux devices but Microsoft could win me over if I could write C# apps to customize it. Smiley

    I also prefer to transfer stuff using traditional folders (or directories) and being forced to use WMP to transfer things would piss me off no end.

    Brett: Nice DS9 in the background =)


    Manip, it is unfortunate that you make so many assumptions.  I own the Creative Zen and I have never been happier.

    It's important to note that the PMC is not a stand-alone device.  The smarts are in Media Player.  I have no trouble at all creating favorites lists and moving them to the PMC.  The menus are the easiest they could be.  In fact, the Zen has four shortcut buttons on the top of the device that I can associate with any menu in the device - including the selection of a favorites list or a favorite movie.

    I also bought the (wired) remote control for the device as well as a "hip pack" (once called a "fanny pack") to keep the Zen in.  It's very comfortable and the remote control allows me to, well, control the device without having to take it from the bag while on the train or out in public.

    Please be more careful and fair when talking about a product.  If you don't own it, don't comment on it stating that it "sucks" because it can't do this or that.

    It's a v1 device, yes, but I give it 5 out of 5 stars because they got it right!

    This device is fantastic.  I'm looking forward to the day when the price comes down and more people are able to enjoy it.  Because it's so new, we early adopters get to pay for it.

    However, there's no way this class of device will fail.  It doesn't ned a recorder, just go buy a cheap camcorder if you want to record on the go.

    Media Player 10 is brilliant when moving media to the device.  I had to learn how to make effective playlists, but once I did, it was very easy to tell WMP10 which ones to synchronize with the PMC.

    Of course, you can use whatever program you want to tranfer files, but I'd wonder why when Media Player 10 works fine.

    I use a media syndication program to automatically download the Channel 9 videos to the device and I watch them on the train to work.  It was quite odd to see a video of the PMC showing a video of the PMC on my PMC.  I had to rewind it and watch it again because it was so odd.

    I ask that you guys give this thing a break.  It's expensive now, yes, but it'll come down.

    Just head over to REI and get yourself a "pacsafe" hip bag.  It has steel mesh around it and a steel cable that you can lock your contents up.  With the remote control, it's a great music player while on the go.

    Good job PMC team!

    This is the future of personal media.  I just ordered an XBox extender for my media room and I've hidden the MCE2005 box in the closet.  I LOVE that we're finally seeing some of the vision that Bill laid out in "The Road Ahead".  I've been waiting on it for quite some time...

    Good job!  Kudos to each of you!
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