Finding the ideal PC for your living room is a difficult task. Ideally, it should be quiet, be styled like a component for your hifi rack, come with a remote control for the couch potatoes and be equipped for modern content such as HDTV and other high-definition content. With its Activy Media Center 570, Fujitsu Siemens Computers is venturing into this difficult terrain. The benefit to the user is obvious, as the unit is ready to use out of the box and does not need to be configured. However, what does an off-the-shelf HTPC like this one really offer to the consumer?
The Activy Media Center made by Fujitsu Siemens Computers is more than a simple DVD player with a hard drive built in. Inside its enclosure resides a complete PC with two Hauppauge TV tuner cards that runs Windows XP. In addition to playing back movies from VD, the Activy 570 can also record TV shows to its internal hard drive and burn them to a DVD later. Since the system contains two TV tuner cards, you can watch one program on one of them while recording a second program from the other. FSC offers versions for the digital TV broadcasting standards DVB-T and DVB-S as well as for the good old analogue TV. Depending on your TV connection, you’ll have to choose the model that best suits your needs.
The DVB-S variant distinguishes itself from the others by giving the user the option of upgrading it with a Common Interface (CI), allowing the reception of Pay-TV channels. All that is needed are a smart card and the appropriate Conditional Access Module (CAM). An Alphacrypt CAM is suitable for the German Pay-TV channel Premiere, while Sky Digital in Great Britain uses the NDS Videoguard system developed by News Datacom.
FSC’s HTPC also doubles as an internet terminal. Using the Firewire/DV jack, you can even hook up your digital camcorder. Copying your home movies over to the AMC 570 is simple, as is editing them and burning them to a blank dual-layer DVD.
Inside the Activy Media Center you’ll find conventional PC hardware, namely a 3 GHz Intel Celeron processor, a 250 GByte hard drive and a DVD burner. The Windows-XP based operating system is pre-installed and requires next to no configuration by the user. In principle, all settings can be changed using the remote control. However, the individual letters have to be entered text-message style, like on a mobile phone. While this is bearable for the basic configuration, things get hairy when you start entering your browser bookmarks. Our recommendation – connect a USB keyboard and mouse for the setup process and save yourself the hassle.
The key facts at a glance
- Signal Output
- DVI (with HDMI)
- 2x Scart
- Dual TV-Tuner
- DVB-T (terrestrial digital TV using an antenna), DVB-S (digital TV via satellite) or Analog-TV
- DVB-S expandable for Pay-TV using Common Interface (CI) and Conditional Access Module (CAM)
- Time Shifting
- records two programmes in parallel
- Digital Video Recorder
- up to 400 hours, depending on quality settings
- EPG for 10 days in advance
- Video Editing
- Editing recorded material possible using the remote control
- DVD Recorder
- Double-Layer DVD+R (8.5 GB)
- DVD/CD-Media Player
- Playback of DVD, S-VCD, AVI
- Internet Connection via RJ45 LAN
- fully-feature web browser
- uPNP Server (Network Media Server)
- with Follow Me functionality
- Programmable Remote Control