Are new Vista Media Center extenders too pricey?

Are new Vista Media Center extenders too pricey?

Summary: On September 27, Microsoft and a handful of partners took the official wraps off new Windows Center Media Extenders, which are priced at about $350 a piece and available this holiday season. But is that price point too high for consumers interested in streaming Media Center content to something other than an Xbox 360?


On September 27, Microsoft and a handful of partners took the official wraps off new Windows Center Media Extenders, which are priced at about $350 a piece and available this holiday season.

Are new Media Center extenders too pricey?(Microsoft rolled out earlier this week the updates to Windows Media Center in Vista Home Premium and Vista Ultimate required to support these "Pika" extenders.)

At least one influential critic thinks this price point will result in Microsoft pricing itself right out of the kinds of markets it hopes to attract with devices designed to allow users to stream Windows Media Center content, like photos, music, video and more, to TVs, DVD players and other devices around the home.

Microsoft Media Center Most Valuable Professional Chris Lanier has been blogging up a storm of discontent about the new extenders:

"What doesn’t Microsoft understand here? First the public’s feeling is that they are limiting Extenders to the Xbox 360 so they can grab all the profit (not really since they lose on every 360, but that’s the general public’s feeling) so their solution is have partners add Wireless-N and additional codec support in standalone v2 Extenders and sell it for $80 more than an Xbox 360? Even better, codec support on the Xbox 360 Extender doesn’t seem like it will improve much."

Lanier had some constructive criticism for the Media Center team, as well, including making wireless an option (not the default); gigabit Ethernet support; more attractive exteriors; and a $150 to $200 price point for third-party extenders.

The new Media Center extenders are a component of Microsoft's connected-home vision. They're not as pricey as the "big-ass" Surface tables, but are they to gain widespread consumer adoption?

Topics: Microsoft, Hardware, Mobility, Operating Systems, Software, Windows


Mary Jo has covered the tech industry for 30 years for a variety of publications and Web sites, and is a frequent guest on radio, TV and podcasts, speaking about all things Microsoft-related. She is the author of Microsoft 2.0: How Microsoft plans to stay relevant in the post-Gates era (John Wiley & Sons, 2008).

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  • Wow! I'll hold off on Wireless-N until 2009...

    I'll wait until I can afford the extender.
    Grayson Peddie
  • RE: Are new Vista Media Center extenders too pricey?

    Yes! $50.00 to $100.00 is the sweet spot for me.
  • Not competitive

    Of Course They Are!

    Comparable units from competitors run in the $200 range and offer better standards support. Why anyone would make wireless the default for a video device escapes me. The old extender wasn't a joy to work with either. I have to reinstall it every 6 months when it loses signal strength for too long. They have strong competitors selling at $180 so I can't see this version being any more successful than 1.0
  • RE: Are new Vista Media Center extenders too pricey?

    Most of blame should be placed on Cisco and Dlink for setting these outrageous price points. Niveus probably gets a pass because all their products are priced for the upper-end of the market.

    Where Microsoft went wrong is to partner with manufacturers of networking equipment. They just don't have the experience to develop mass market entertainment products like those manufacturers of low/mid av/home theater manufacturers. I'd partner with manufacturers of 5.1 integrated home theater systems and television monitors. I was surprised that Toshiba was part of todays announcement. You would think their HD-DVD players w/ethernet port are excellent candidates for a Windows Media Extender firmware upgrade. And for $300+, getting a HD-DVD player with Extender capabilities doesn't seem like highway robbery.
  • Of course

    For a little more money I could build myself a completely dedicated computer rather than an extender AND be able to play whatever codec I want AND be able to add wireless AND digital TV recording...
  • RE: Are new Vista Media Center extenders too pricey?

    Yes it is too pricy in my mind and not flexible.
  • RE: Are new Vista Media Center extenders too pricey?

    I see that DLINK has officially announced the DSM-750 --- Yay!! However, I notice that it is devoid of the H.264 AVC support that was originally rumored to be included. If this support is not included, then why on Earth would anyone buy it????? The DSM-520, DSM-510, and DSM-320 do everything it does, excluding the WiFi draft N support --- which, by the way, doesn't work worth a flip for transferring HD video through walls in a 2 story house!!! Yes, I am upset with the announcement, even more that I have a DSM-520 which does not support H.264 AVC. Make me and several thousand other customers happy by including H.264 support. We have all converted our libraries into H.264 format via either Quicktime or Nero Digital and would like to be able to use them. Please don't continue to let Microsoft limit your capabilities in this area. DLINK could be the premier vendor for video streaming if you would just look beyond M$. You know, pretty soon, DirecTV will add MPEG4 H.264 streaming support to the HD-DVR and no one who has one will need the DSM's. Don't miss your window of opportunity!!!!!


    I'm using Nero Mediahome to stream H.264 videos converted on the fly into MPEG-2 so that the DSM-520 can display them on my Sony KDS60-A2000 television. It works, but I lose the 5.1 surround sound during the conversion.
  • RE: Are new Vista Media Center extenders too pricey?

    I thought Vista was going to include all this for $200-$400. It didn't. It's another rip as far as I'm concerned.
  • RE: Are new Vista Media Center extenders too pricey?

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