The nascent Media Center Edition PC is about to get some DVD-burning savvy. In an exclusive to PCMag.com, Sonic Solutions, Inc., has announced Sonic PrimeTime for Windows Media Center Edition PCs. The company will officially announce the software at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas on Jan 9.
The maker of the DVD authoring applications MyDVD and DVDit! has built what it says is a DVD-burning solution for Microsofts “10-foot couch-to-television experience.” The idea behind the application (scheduled to launch in March) is simple. Media Center will already record and store your favorite shows on its hard drive. The $59 PrimeTime will, according to general manager Mark Ely, allow users to peruse the list of stored shows and select them to burn to DVD. It will not, however, maintain a catalog of all of the DVDs youve burned using PrimeTime.
Built on the DVDit and MyDVD DVD-burning engine, PrimeTime will apparently create chapters for each show automatically and make sure you can fit the maximum number of shows on each DVD. Ely also stressed that the application will not reencode the video. Instead it will take the MPEG2 stream created by the Media Center Edition OS and convert it to DVD-ready format (only the audio will actually be reencoded).
Since DVDs will be created in the OpenDVD format, they will be reeditable in any of Sonics DVD editing applications (not including PrimeTime which wont actually be an editing application). Ely said that users could even, conceivably, rewrite to DVD+RW discs, but he admitted that the resulting disc might not be playable on all standalone DVD players. Users should be able to edit the DVD and burn to a different, more universally playable, DVD-R or +R disk, though. (PrimeTime, like its MyDVD and DVDit counterparts will, according to Ely, be able to write to all DVD media formats.)
Unlike ReplayTV (but like TiVo), Media Center PCs do not currently allow users to automatically skip commercials. PrimeTime will not remove ads either, but instead will archive shows with the commercials in tact. That said, Ely pointed out that theres nothing to prevent users from duplicating the relatively high-quality recorded DVDs PrimeTime generates. “Yes you could conceivable copy the DVD disk—not with our application—but with someone elses, you could.”
He added, though, that recorded shows on the Media Center PCs have no DRM (Digital Rights Management) information associated with them. Sonic is currently investigating ways to block the recording of certain kinds of copyrighted material and even, possibly, to base some restrictions on ratings so that, for example, parents could stop children from recording R-rated movies to DVD.
Sonic PrimeTime is expected to be ready for download from Sonics Web site in mid–March, and while the company says that it will likely ship with new Media Center PCs, no OEM agreements have been announced.