MediaCentral 2 Review
The phrase ‘everything but the kitchen sink’ comes to mind as we peruse the features available in MediaCentral 2. It’s a tool designed to turn your Mac into a media PC – ideal for living-room based computers connected to a big, HD-ready TV. In so doing, it brings together every media function of your machine – from DVD playback to iTunes, iPhoto galleries to internet radio. Then there’s perhaps the best part of all: the built-in TV features.
MediaCentral 2 can be bought in a boxed version alongside TubeStick, a digital TV tuner that fits into a USB port. Miglia TV Mini is also compatible. With this configuration you can watch free-to-air digital TV, select programs from a comprehensive programming guide, pause live TV and, with TubeStick’s integrated software The Tube, you can record programmes too.
Without a digital TV tuner there’s still plenty to look at, with IPTV features and Online Clips on offer. IPTV? The IP’s short for Internet Protocol and it just means streaming programming from online sources. MediaCentral competes well with tools like Joost for content, connecting you to a range of feeds from around the web. You can also access Google and YouTube feeds direct from the programming, watching top-rated clips in full-screen mode.
Navigation through the program is pretty simple, with a menu-based system similar to Front Row or Windows Media Centre. However, we found the background music loop became a little annoying as we looked through photo galleries and browsed our music library.
Do you need MediaCentral? Considering that your Mac already has most of the functionality offered, probably not. However, its integration with the same company’s DTT recording suite TheTube makes it an ideal tool for living-room Macs.