Media Center takes centre stage

2005 Review ComputingThe story 2005 was not a vintage year for computing – there were no new processors, few significant operating system changes, and

2005 Review Computing

The story 2005 was not a vintage year for computing – there were no new processors, few significant operating system changes, and tablet PCs failed to go mainstream. Fortunately, media centre PCs were there to save the day

The highs After a few stuttering starts, Microsoft’s Media Center (sic) operating system came of age in 2005. The lure of a combined music server, PVR and media viewer in the living room is a strong, but it was only this year that manufacturers realised that designs need to be lounge-friendly too. By the end of the year, nearly 50% of PCs sold in the US were running the Media Center operating system. Meanwhile Apple, flushed with the success of the iPod brand, continued to produce innovative designs – starting with the bargain basement Mac Mini and ending with the new iMac G5, with its own take on media centre software.

The lows Apple boss Steve Jobs shocked the computing world when he announced in June that the whole Macintosh family was to switch from IBM’s Power PC processors to the same Intel chips that drive Windows PCs. Meanwhile touchscreen tablet PCs continued to underperform despite new models from Toshiba and IBM.

Computer of the year Apple’s Mac Mini was a triumph of design and marketing, but with a ageing G4 processor and no peripherals, it wasn’t quite the bargain it fist seemed. Meanwhile Alienware’s Aurora Star Wars Edition had the Stuff geeks salivating at its hardcore gaming potential and tacky Darth Vader spray job. But the computing crown must go to the king of Media Center PCs, the Uvem Classic: whisper quiet, stunningly powerful and available with up to 1.5TB of storage, it’s the last word in living room computing. Until next year, that is…

Previous 2005 reviews:

Smarter than your average palmtop

Make way for the new-fi

MP3 takes over

The best digicams of 2005

MP4 video players

Home cinema