Practical Technology

for practical people.

Apple TV Competition?

Since the Apple TV showed up, other companies have been getting into the media extender act, like MediaGate with its MG-350HD. They only have one problem: they repeat all the mistakes of earlier media extenders.

The MG-350HD, for example, according to a recent PC Magazine review, has real trouble working with Wi-Fi networks. The Apple TV? In my experience, you turn it on, it finds the network, it works.

Some people want a hard drive that’s bigger than Apple TV’s 40GB hard drive. The MG-350HD, like the D-Link DSM-320, doesn’t have a hard drive.

Of course, you could just stream the video–after you got the network set up properly–but to quote PC Magazine, “streaming video was a bust.” Boy, haven’t I seen that time and again on other media extenders, except, of course for the Apple TV.

Now you can add a hard drive to the MG-350D, but it not only will cost you more, it doesn’t automatically sync with your media files. Instead you have to drag your movies and TV episodes to your new drive.

On the plus side, PC Mag reports that it will play MPEG1, MPEG2, MPEG4, WMV9, and some Xvid video files. Apple TV is much more limited. On the other hand, with programs like the DVD to MPEG4 ripper HandBrake, transforming movies and the like into Apple TV friendly formats isn’t that much of a big deal.

No, from where I sit, the MG-350D isn’t competition. Like the iPod before it, the Apple TV may not be perfect, but it far, far better than anything else out there.

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