If you are used to using a PC, youâ€™ll know that while theyâ€™ve come on leaps and bounds in terms of usability and ease of use in recent times, they arenâ€™t as easy to operate as current entertainment devices like your TV and DVD player.
Clicking a mouse a few times to get a DVD to play isnâ€™t too bad, but if you want to integrate a PC with your existing home entertainment devices, it has to be easier than that. To that end, Microsoft wisely enlisted the help of its top user interface designers and put them to the task of creating a simple but powerful user interface for MCE.
With simple single â€˜clickâ€™ access to all the features that MCE provides on top of Windows XP Professional, nothing you need access to is very far from the main menu. With MCE requiring, as part of the hardware specification, a remote control for manipulating MCE functions, you should feel right at home with an MCE equipped PC.
With the PC in regular Windows XP Professional mode, one press of the familiar Start button on your MCE remote brings up the main Media Center screen. The display takes over the desktop, preferably on your television, but equally at home on a monitor too.
The remote is simple enough to let the user get to grips with MCE straight away, after all, who reads the instructions? But the power is also there, ready for when you get more familiar with MCE and more confident in using its features. You get one button access to TV, audio, DVD, photos and movies, along with everything else youâ€™d expect from a modern entertainment device.
On the television side of things, you can pause, rewind, fast forward, zoom and access any extra audio channels or subtitles that are often broadcast along with todayâ€™s TV programs. The dedicated â€˜More Infoâ€™ button brings up extended information about whatâ€™s being watched, such as programme length and when itâ€™s next showing in the TV schedule.
When working with your audio, you can skip tracks, bring up your play lists, change album, adjust the volume and everything else that youâ€™d need to do from a remote. Being context sensitive, the More Info button allows MCE to get artist information, album details and the other track specific details that are specific to your music collection.
Again, while TV, DVD and audio are key to MCE, the remote still gives you good access to the other functions, such as displaying your photos captured from a digital camera, allowing you to display photo albums on the TV with the whole family sat around watching.