Microsoft has been showing off the Media Center Extender functionality of Xbox 360 here at IDF.
Xbox 360 doesn't have Media Center capabilities per se
: that is, it can't record and playback TV.
However, it does have a Media Center Extender - a bridge that allows you to stream content from another Media Center PC in the house to the 360.
So, Microsoft gave us a live demonstration of an Intel PC using a dual core chip playing back media content, whilst also streaming different content (seamlessly, and in HD too) to the Xbox 360 for playback on a separate TV.
Of course, 360 will play audio from any source plugged in via USB. However, with the Media Center Extender, it can also play your central library of content.
There are currently a bunch of Extenders on the market that allow you to take Media Center content across the house. However, the user interface is very static and lacks some of the pizazz of Media Center on the actual PC it's running on. Thankfully, the 360 Extender sports all of the animations and graphical flashes of native Media Center.
We also had a look at the remote that will be available for the 360. Oddly, it's smaller than it has looked in previous pictures we've seen, actually shorter than the Media Center remote. The overall feel is pretty similar, however.
We think this is the first time that the Extender functionality of the 360 has been shown. Rock on...
Oh, and check out the picture below through the mesh - that blue glow inside the box looks very interesting...
UPDATE August 26:
the rumour from San Francisco is that then Windows XP is replaced with Windows Vista, the latter will be MCE-enabled by default. So everyone thinking they don't care about this feature of Xbox 360 because they don't run Media Center will benefit if they move to Windows Vista.