Digital integrators looking for an inexpensive alternative to Windows Media Center PCs may want to look at the MediaReady 5000 from Video Without Boundaries. The Linux-based system offers media distribution, PVR, Internet and other capabilities.
The MediaReady 5000 uses a proprietary interface to provide access to multimedia content as well as an online TV program guide. The device is designed to pull and push content to and from other devices on a wired home network. It does not include built-in wireless, though integrators can add it via the device's PCMIA slot or USB port. The MediaReady 5000 also includes the Firefox Web browser, AOL Instant Messenger, Thunderbird e-mail client and Skype VoIP software.
Resembling a DVD player, the Media- Ready 5000 includes a processor and chipset from Via Technologies, a 120-Gbyte hard drive and many ports and connectors for multimedia devices. The device can play MPEG-1, 2 and 4 video, and includes bidirectional support for the CableCard, which allows it to access digital TV and other services without a separate set-top box.