It all started on October 29th 2002 when Microsoft launched Windows XP Media Center 2002 with Hewlett Packard as their supplier of a computer with the new system. The thought behind it was to gather all the digital fun in one place, partly for the enthusiasts and partly for those with limited space for electronics. When the first machine was available more and more manufacturers followed Hewlett Packard’s example and on November 18th the same year you could buy solutions from Gateway, Alienware, ABS Computer Technologies and CyberPower Inc, besides Hewlett Packard.

It all started on October 29th 2002 when Microsoft
launched Windows XP Media Center 2002 with Hewlett Packard as their supplier of a computer with the new system. The thought behind it was to gather all the digital fun in one place, partly for the enthusiasts and partly for those with limited space for electronics. When the first machine was available more and more manufacturers followed Hewlett Packard’s example and on November 18th the same year you could buy solutions from Gateway, Alienware, ABS Computer Technologies
and CyberPower Inc, besides Hewlett Packard.

The development continued and version 2004 of Media Center was introduced September 30th 2003. Except the already existing functions supporting DVD, TV, music,
photo and radio the weight was put on ”on demand” and
on-line media. A new portal showed up in the main menu simply called ”Online Spotlight” while the cooperation with different companies around the web made it possible to listen to onlineradio, play games and other entertainment with Media
Center and its interface. At this time there where somewhere around 40 manufacturers that sold computers with Media Center.

The design of the interface available today, its content and all of its functions has been developed together with users. During the process Microsoft has done over 20 major investigations where they received propositions and opinions from more then 5000 consumers which later evolved into the thing you see in front of you today when you start Media Center.

Since the product is so very special you can’t buy it separately, instead it’s only sold as a complete package by some manufacturers. Except media Center itself you need a TV-card with support for the system and a special remote and last but not least Microsoft wants to guarantee the function works which they can’t if they sold it separately.

So far Media Center is only available in English, French, German, Japanese and Korean even though there are systems available in other countries as well. In Sweden Network Technical is the first to launch a product with Media Center which they have chosen to name Media Station
Boxter. The operating system is in English and since there isn’t a Swedish version available there are no tv program-tableau for the channels available for download. In Sweden we can expect a complete Swedish product at the earliest by the first quarter of 2005.

Since the product isn’t complete yet (when it comes to some on-line functions) in Sweden Microsoft has been very restrictive with picking the companies that can sell Media Center. Network Technical
is the first and only company which offers a product today even if there is another which has been grated permission. Today Wellton Way, which the other company is called, sells a selfdeveloped system based on
Windows XP, but with its own interface. Microsoft will without a doubt deny further companies to sell products with Media Center at this point until the Swedish product is finished.

We at NordicHardware will however give you a preview of what Network Technical has to offer,
and what we can expect from a future complete Swedish version in about a year. Before we move on to the review we should mention that Network Technical will launch a new version of their Media Station in a near future which will have a completely new look.

Windows XP Media Center is only delivered

as a complete product, which means that you can’t buy the operating system

as peripheral equipment and install it on your computer. If all functions

must work and work satisfactory then there are only a few TV-cards that

are certified to be used in Media Center. Together with the TV-card (which

in this

case is a Hauppage PVR-250) a remote control is shipped that is licensed

to use with the Media Center. Together with software for playback of



this case PowerDVD) this is a complete solution for what the consumer

experiences as one single product in the interface.

Keep in mind that the base of Media Center is Windows XP Pro, which means that you at the same time get all the advantages with Media Center, also get the ability to use it as a normal computer to do your usual tasks. Usually you have a monitor plugged into the computer at the same time as a TV-set or a plasma screen which gives you the ability to work with the computer and then watch a movie, listen to some music or do something else on the big screen in the living room. The interface is easily started using a button on the remote, which is completely controlled from the remote so that you don’t have to use a mouse and a keyboard. Everything is supposed to be simple.

Network Media Station Boxter: Specifications


Operating system: Windows XP Media Center Edition 2004, ENG
CPU: Intel Pentium 4
Chipset: SiS651B + SiS 962L
Cache: 512k on-die full speed L2 cache
Floppy disk drive : Optional
Harddrive: EIDE 160Gb, Ultra ATA/100
Optical storage: DVD+/- RW recorder
Sound: AC-97 Soft Audio on-board (5.1-support)
Internal memory : 512M DDR333 SDRAM
Graphics: NVIDIA GeForce FX 5200, 128M, TV-out, DVI
Network: Integrerat 10/100Mbits with Wake-On-Lan
Case: SFF
Card slots: 1 x 32-bit PCI, 1 x AGP (4x)



2 USB 2.0,

1 IEEE 1394 Firewire

1 line-out

1 line-in

1 line-in (optical SPDIF)

1 RJ-45

2 PS/2 for mouse and keyboard

2 COM-ports, 9-pol

1 output for monitor (built-in)


2 USB 2.0

1 IEEE 1394 Firewire

1 microphone input

1 headphone output

1 line-out (optical SPDIF)

Peripheral cards

1 DVI-output

1 monitor output

1 TV-output

1 input for TV-signal

1 input for radio antenna

1 input for s-video

1 input for composite-video

1 input for sound (stereo, RCA)


Power Supply Unit: 200W, PFC
Size: 200 x 300 x 185 mm (Width x Depth x Height)
Miscellaneous: PowerQuest DISE (restoration), XP Media Center TV-card, 6-in-1 card reader, Cable kit for DVD and remote + IR-eye

Contact Network for the current price on telephone 0300-67 00 00.


The package is delivered with the following components:

1 computer

1 wireless keyboard

1 wireless mouse

1 remote, wireless

1 cable kit for DVD

1 antenna including t-coupling

1 s-video cable

1 audio cable


We give this package a big plus for all the

necessary cables delivered with the machine, and cables in sufficient length

as well. The S-video cable for example is very long and even if you place

the computer far away from your TV set it will reach.

I was thinking of beginning

with saying that Network is almost ready to launch a new look for their

Media Center, with the new name Medius. You who visited Comdex recently

could see it in Network’s case and it is also on their webpage for those

of you that are interested. They aim for a look which looks better in

the living room and is suppose to be quieter then the existing product.

The content when it comes to the system Media Center will be the same

though, even if the hardware may change somewhat though.

The base of the whole concept

Media Center is a box of less size. You probably know the look since earlier,

but as I said in the introduction it will change soon. Windows XP Media

Center 2004 is installed from factory and your product key and license

is on the side of the case.

On the front of the small

case (that is why it is Boxter) offers a bunch of different types connections

for accessories and also outputs for other regular uses. From the left

you have an optical line-out followed by a microphone-input and an amplified

connection for headphones. To the right of these there are two USB-connections

and an IEEE1394-connection where you can connect your regular accessories

such as DV-camera, digital camera or other multimedia products. Of course

you can connect anything that has a USB or Firewire-interface, but since

Media Center is probably going to be used with multimedia I wrote the

way I did.

A bit further up to the right you can find the buttons for turning on, resetting the machine the hard way. The diodes are blue and yellow to show that the computer is on and that the harddrive is working. Today there is no possibility to turn it on via the remote but you can turn it off .  

Where there normally is a

floppydrive a cardreader is located, which can handle six different types

of memorycards. These are for transferring pictures to your Media Center

from digital cameras and similar. The pictures can then be shown together

with music, one and one or in a stream in a so called slideshow. This

function and of course all the other will be looked closer at further

into the article.

The optical unit in the computer is DVD-writer from Sony which can handle

both standards (plus and minus). With it you can read all media and the

possibility to write is also there.

On the back there is a whole

bunch connections and at a first glance it may look very advanced for

a beginner, but most of them have their natural placement. What you have

to be careful about though is that the card has two connections for monitors,

one at the bottom left from the integrated graphics card and an extra

one at the bottom right. The machine is configured to use the extra one

at the bottom right since it has better performance and therefore you

have to connect the screen through it, otherwise you don’t get any picture

on your screen. This is mentioned in the manual though.

Further more there are two COM-ports, one network outlet, two USB-ports,

two IEEE1394 (firewire) and two PS/2-port (mouse and keyboard). There

are also connections for 5.1-sound (front, rear and center/sub) in combination

with line-in, line-out and microphone. They are configured for stereo

as default and if you for any reason want to change this you have do it

in Windows manually. There is also an optical line-in (SPDIF) and a connection

for connecting the powercable.

There are two extra expansion-cards

installed in the computer, one AGP and one PCI, which is the maximum number

of cards that can be installed. Which means you can not install any other

cards. The card to the left is the tv-card(PVR-250 from Hauppage) and

there you have a connection for the radio antenna at the top, video connections

both in form of s-video and composite and two line-ins for stereosound

via two RCA-connections. There are also, except for this tv-card, other

models which work with Media Center.

The right card is the graphics card which in this case is a nVidia FX5200

with 128 MB RAM, where you got a DVI-connection on the top, an s-video

connection in the middle and a regular for you monitor at the bottom.

This is the primary one an if you later connect the tv via s-video or

your plasmascreen via the DVI-connection. The graphics card which is used

is not bound to any specific model or brand so it can vary from computer

to computer.

Your Media Center is primary controlled with the remote and with control I mean you can start up the interface and control all function in there without assistance from neither mouse nor keyboard. The foundation is a regular Windows XP though so the need for other accessories are big and therefore is the machine from Network delivered with a wireless keyboard and mouse from Logitech. These can also be used with Media Center if you want to, but the thought with Media Center is that you should only have to lean back into the couch and relax and not lean over the keyboard.

On the top of the remote

you control the regular functions which you already know (play, pause,

stop and so forth) in all applications such as tv, DVD, movie and music.

You can also chose to turn off the computer or set it to sleepmode (depending

on what you have chosen in the power settings) with the button to the

upper right. Just as I mentioned earlier you can not activate the machine

with the remote but have to press the button manualy on the case. However,

if you have set it to sleep mode you wake it up via the remote, with a

touch on the same button.

The middle section of the remote is used to to navigate through the menus.

Just as you probably assumed you steer right, left, up and down with the

arrows which points in the corresponding directions and then you chose

with "OK". There are also quickbuttons to jump to previous menu,

open fullscreen, bring out more information about a tv-show (does not

work completely in Sweden yet) and to pull out the tv-tableau and guide

(does not work in Sweden completely yet either).

Below these buttons are quickbuttons for video video, music, tv and pictures and numeric keyboard to chose track, channel and write text and so forth. The big green button on the remote starts up the interface for Media Center and lets you jump back to the mainmenu .

The remote has to have a

receiver and this comes of course along with the computer. It is connected

via USB and then there are two more connections on the back of it. These

are for an extra IR-eye (one extra comes along) which you can connect

an extra receiver with. It can be a receiver for cable-tv or satellite-tv

and the purpose with this is perhaps that you can let Media Center control

your external receiver so that you can change channel in Media Center

it will change channel for you on the receiver. A very convenient function.

The operating system itself is preinstalled

from Network so you do not have to install anything just accept the license

agreement and create a user. When this is done the regular guide that connects

your computer to the internet starts, but you do not have to complete it but

can use your regular connection when your done. If you have a broadband connection

through any of the common Internet providers you do not have to configure

the computer in any significant way.

Another thing that could be worth mentioning is that Network has chosen to

activate the firewall from factory. This is mostly positive, though you may

have to open one or two ports for all services to work properly or if you

want to use any form of server software on you computer that you want other

people to access through the web.

When all guides are done you log in with the user you created and the next

time the computer starts up it will log on automatically with this user. This

is recommended if you do not create any more users, but use only the one which

is automatically logged in. Media Center namely is linked to a user, inother

words where the information is saved.

You are now ready to start Media Center for

the first time and you do this by pressing the green button on the remote

or choose Media Center from the startmenu in Windows. Network is very clear

to point out that you have to follow the guide in the manual for Media Center

to function (the tv-function) since there is no official support in Sweden

for tv-tableaus and so forth.

The installation consists out of four steps which is also described on the right picture above. Every step contains the one or more substeps that you have to walk through for Media Center to function. If you interrupt it it will start the next time you start Media Center. If you wind up in the situation where you did something wrong and want to run the guide again there is a little trick.

Close Media Center.


Start and choose Run.

Write an run the entire command below.


Start Media Center and the installationguide will start again.

The above command ensures that you do not have to worry if you do something

wrong since you can do everything all over again so to speak. This little

manouver is especially useful when it comes to this machine since you can

make misstakes during the installation which makes the tv-card not work. This

has to do with that the tv-guide does not work in Sweden yet.


The first step of the guide to configure Media

Center is logically your remote, as it is needed for controlling the interface

when you are ready to hit it. If you do not have your remote connected (the

receiver that is) in this step you will get an error which asks you to connect

it. You can do this without turning off the computer since it is connected

via USB.

To ensure that the remote works the way it is suppose to you can aim it towards

your Media Station (and receiver) and press the numbers at the same time that

you check that corresponding number shows on the screen. When you have ensured

that it works satisfactory you click on to the next step. You will now see

a window where you choose method for downloading the guide which is connected

to the tv-function.

It is extra important here that you choose "manual download" since

there is not any guides for Sweden yet. If you by misstake choose the wrong

option you can go back and reset the configuration according to the above

mentioned method start over.

Check twice that you have chosen manual download of the guides and continue with chosing tv-signal.

Here you can choose what type of signal you have into your Media Station.

You can choose between:

Cable or digital cable



The last is if you have a regular antenna connected to your Media Station,

that is an analog antenna that you receive SVT1, SVT2 and TV4 with then you

choose the last option, "antenna". If you have cable-tv that does

not require an external decoder you choose "cable or digital cable"

and if you have cable-tv or satellite-tv that requires an external decoder

you pick "satellite". You can still choose cable-tv if you have

your own satellite-disc with external decoder and change channel as usual

on the decoder and then take the signal via a single channel in your Media

Station, but if you want to you can let the external IR-eye control your satellite



I start with testing the machine with a regular

antenna and therefore pick "antenna" in the first step and then

"analogue" in the second. No further configuration is required in

this mode but you can continue with the guide. You also get information about

about how Microsoft handles your information which might be interesting to

read. This mode also works if you have cable-tv with a selection that does

not require an external receiver.


Media Center can automatically download information

about the media you choose to put on your harddrive. This can be CDs with

music and what happens when you rip a CD is that information about the CD

is gathered from the internet. The information can consist of the titles,

pictures, covers and so forth. If you want this function, which we recommend,

you simply choose "yes" and continue.

The tv-guide, as we have said, can not be used in Sweden yet, so here we have

to choose "no".


You will get a message saying that you could

not get any information from the online guide, which is normal. Continue and

you are done with configuring the first step. Media Center will start up and

you will be greeted by the welcome screen.

The installationguide itself is relatively easy to follow with small reservation

for the section about the signal that goes into the computer. It is easy to

pick the wrong thing and then you can be struggling for very long without

getting the tv-channels to function. One thing that also might cause trouble

is the the fact that the guide does not work in Sweden yet. If you pick the

the wrong thing you have to start over or change the setting inside Media


The next step will be configuring your tv-channels, which we will go through in the next section.

For this to work you have had to run the installation-guide and picked the correct settings for how you receive the tv-signal. The guide does not check in any way if you have picked the correct setting, since it can not know what type of setting which is correct for you. If any of the following instructions does not work you might have chosen the wrong setting and then I recommend that you start the guide over again and check that you pick the right setting there first.


If you are satisfied with the settings you

made you can continue by open the option "settings" from the mainmenu

and there pick tv. Here are also settings for the rest of the things in

Media Center, but most things does not need to be explained and changed

to get started with the the product.

Choose "guide" and then "edit guide listings" to manually edit settings. Want to remind you not to download any guides or in any other way accept settings that has to do with automatics since it does not work in Sweden yet.

To continue you have to accept the window

that tells you that the numbers that does not show in the correct order

later is not related to the order of the channels but the frequencies. When

you have done this you will get a window that shows all frequencies from

start to beginning, i.e. number 1 up to 69 (if you have picked antenna).

Thus these are frequencies for setting and not the name or number of the


To be able to sort the channels later you have to write down the channels

you find, or more correctly the the slot they are in. We can not help you

with a list since the frequencies vary depending on where in Sweden you

live and which transmitter you receive from information from. The information

you have to write down is which channelslot they are located in and the

channels name, so you that you know until later.

A lined paper is in the manual that comes with the product, and there you

can write down the frequencies for the transmissions.

The setting of the slots itself is done

so that you scroll down the list until you find a slot which contains a

transmission. Remember that you have to wait for a couple of seconds before

the channels is presented in the lower left corner, otherwise you may miss

something. If there is not any transmission on that slot logically there

will only be noise after which you simply click "ok" on the remote

and deselect the channelslot. Then it will not show when you choose the

tv-function but only the channelslots which contains transmissions will

be available. This is good so you do not have to browse through a lot of

empty channels to find the one you want.

Alas there is no automatic search or setting-function.

Continue with the list and remove the check

in front of all slots that does not contain transmission and keep the check

with those slots with transmission. When you are done and have wound up

at the last slot you choose "save" and Media Center will only

use the list which contains channnelslots with transmission.

If you are in the situation where Media Center has not found all your channels you can simply add your own manually by clicking "add missing channels". Everything depends on where in Sweden you live and what frequencies the channels are broadcast on. More information about this can be found at Teracom.

Here is the list of channels which you have

previously added, and if you have not added any you will see an empty list.

Click on "add channel" to continue.

You now get to pick a name for you channel and this is done by using the

numeric keyboard on the remote. On the screen shows which numbers that represent

which letters but if you ever sent an SMS this will not be that hard for

you. When you have entered the name for the channel you click "next".

Check the name and continue with setting

the frequency for the channel in form of channelslot. Note that this is

not the slot on the list or number on which you want to store the channel

later but the channelslot which the channel transmits on. You have to know

this for it to work and that is where the link to Teracom above comes into

the picture. Put the right frequency in form of channelslot and continue

with "add".

The channel is now in you list.

This last task is the only way that Media Center can name a channel. If

you names on all your channels you have to take notes about all you channelslots

which your channels transmitts on and then add them manually (with name)

in the menu above.

If you want to sort the channels in a certain order you go to "personalize preset numbers" from the option "settings" and "guide". There you can select the channels and move them up and down the list and just as you sort them they will show up in the real list from the tv-function. Some channels show up as "blocked" and that is because you have chosen to remove them from the list of channels in the beginning of the configuration, thus this is normal. The last setting is only good if you want for example SVT2 to show up on 2 and does not affect anything else in the system.

Generally i have to say it is a pitty that there is not any automatic search

of channels, even if it is not optimal in all situations. Functionally it

is pretty much right on the money so to speak, only to check what channelslots

which has signal and go for it. If you want to sort channels and give them

names it is also very simply.