A look at DISCover: Part Two -  Alienware

A look at DISCover: Part Two - Alienware

Written by The GN Staff on 6/11/2004 for
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Home theater PCs are becoming very popular and Alienware is jumping in to produce one. Here's our little chat with Brian Joyce at Alienware on the DHS line.

Gaming Nexus: What prompted Alienware to enter the HTPC market? How did you learn about the DISCover technology?

Brian Joyce: Obviously, we’re always looking for ways to satisfy our customer need. You’ll recall that we had partnered with Microsoft with Media Center. It was just a matter of finding a form factor that was going to meet up with our standers in terms of quality and quiet and atheistic. Once we did that, it was a product waiting to happen

Gaming Nexus: What parts are Alienware specific and what are directly pulled from DISCover?

Brian Joyce:Ok, let me clarify this. The DHS systems that have launch currently do not include the DISCover software in them. When that becomes available, we intend to offer it. At this time, the DHS stands on its own merit with the 6-in-1 entertainment center functionality that most people are familiar with with the Media Center OS. The DISCover technology is really essentially going to be an additional feature. It makes sense for a living room environment and we think the DISCover technology is a nice enabler for the gaming aspect of the gaming room PC.

Gaming Nexus: For the system itself, what parts are user upgradeable ?

Brian Joyce: It’s very much like a desktop so you will be able to upgrade processor, memory, video cards, hard drives, etc. Just like a desktop. Far more upgradeable obviously than a consumer electronics component is.

Gaming Nexus: I’ve built three myself. With DHS, what does it have to offer to those that are experts that built their own?

Brian Joyce: You’ve built your own system so obviously the biggest challenge and Microsoft’s largest addition to the space is the integrated OS. Obviously that in of itself for most of us who aren’t do it yourselfers, that’s a big thing. Not having to worry about 17 different applications. Having the simple OS interface is the key. Secondly, we worried about all the things that I’m sure you were challenged with when building your own system being power, heat, and noise being huge. The system engineering aspect is what Alienware are experts at so we handle that for you.

Gaming Nexus: What about plugins?

Brian Joyce: It will allow everything at Media OS center allows of course. We will obviously be offering the next version of the OS as soon as it’s available in September. All of the standard plugins that fit into the OS are fine. In terms of how they are going to handle the remote interface to the applications I honestly can’t comment on it as I don’t know.
Gaming Nexus: How do you keep the noise down in the system?

Brian Joyce: We so carefully selected the chassis first of all. It has to be vented correctly because you are potentially going to put it in a closed entertainment center. So we selected an extremely quiet chassis. We use high volume, low noise fans. We’re really careful not to include actively cooled components that would increase the decibel level. So the video card is passively cooled.

Gaming Nexus: Did you use heatpipe technology for the cooling of the video card?

Brian Joyce: No, we didn’t need to use heatpipe technology. The system is whisper quiet at less than 30dcb and doesn’t have an overheating problem.

Gaming Nexus: Talk a little more about the DHS in a network environment.

Brian Joyce: It’s still a PC, let’s not fool ourselves. It’s an entertainment PC, a digital home PC but still a PC so all the networking options is still available to you. And yes, ultimately the vision is the system would bet networked to other devices in the home so you can share that digital media with any room in the house. I think you’re aware of the Bobsled devices that will be coming out shortly right? That’s what really those are for and that’s to extend the reach of the Media Center PC.

Gaming Nexus: Actually no, we haven’t heard about the Bobsled.

Brian Joyce: I believe that’s code word from Microsoft but essentially what it means is a smaller cheaper device that’s the size of maybe a classroom textbook that sits on top of your TB throughout the rest of the home and lets you access the content that you have recorded or where managing in your digital home system. (Actually now that I think about, this seems very similar to the Hauppauge MediaMVP device. – John)

Gaming Nexus: Actually I think I read about that. Weren’t they going to come out with an upgrade to the Xbox to stream media?

Brian Joyce: I think that was talked about yes.

Gaming Nexus: And the availability of the system?

Brian Joyce: The DHS system launched two weeks before E3.

Gaming Nexus: And the DISCover system?

Brian Joyce: Yes, hopefully very shortly. As soon as it’s available, validated, and tested. We will make it available on the DHS line.

Gaming Nexus: Will this be available to current owners to upgrade or will we have to wait for the line to come out?

Brian Joyce: I believe that the functionality of the DISCover technology is driven by software so we are hoping at this point you will be able to upgrade to it.

* The product in this article was sent to us by the developer/company.

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