By Joel Santo Domingo  |  Posted 2007-03-13 Print this article Print

The Dell XPS 410 with ATI TV Wonder Digital Cable Tuner is the culmination of the things weve been promised for years: the ability to use Media Center Edition (MCE) with digital cable TV. With this latest iteration of the XPS 410, users can now time-shift (and even place-shift, to an extent) TV programming that theyve been aching to view on their PCs. The XPS 410s copious storage capacities alone are reason enough to be excited for this technology (think about the last time you "lost" episodes on your DVR or TiVo during a vacation because they were edged out by newer recordings). Though TV on Vistas MCE interface is still a niche product, this system makes great strides toward making Dell and Microsofts vision of the "digital home media suite" a reality.

Cable Without the Set-Top Box
Weve been promised CableCard on PCs for years. For the uninitiated, CableCard is a cable industry-standard technology, comprised of a PCMCIA-sized card and an external or embedded card reader, that allows your local cable TV company to send basic and premium channels, including HDTV, to devices in your home without the use of a "set-top" box. I define a set-top box here as your typical cable box with an addressable tuner that is required for viewing premium content (like HBO and Showtime). It is usually directly connected to your TV with a DVI, HDMI, Component, S-Video, or RF coaxial cable. It differs from a CableCard in that cable boxes are self-contained, have their own remotes, and are usually rented from the cable company (which owns it).

Read the full review on PCMag.com: Dell XPS 410 with ATI TV Wonder Digital Cable Tuner

Joel Santo Domingo is the Lead Analyst for the Desktops team at PC Magazine Labs. He joined PC Magazine in 2000, after 7 years of IT work for companies large and small. His background includes managing mobile, desktop and network infrastructure on both the Macintosh and Windows platforms. He is responsible for overseeing PC Labs testing, as well as formulating new test methodologies for the Desktops team.

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