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Apple's very own Media Center

Apple's very own Media Center

While everyone's yakking about the new video iPod and those superthin iMacs, I thought one of the more interesting things to come out of Apple's big press conference today was its stab at Media Center-style functionality. There's a small iPod-looking remote, which controls a front-end interface called Front Row, which manages your media collection with big easy-to-read icons, perfect for couch-based viewing. It's very similar in spirit to Windows Media Center, but I'm deliberately avoiding the chicken-and-egg debate over who borrowed what from whom.

On another note, since every other NYC-based tech blogger seems to be talking about it, I'll mention that I checked out the Xbox 360 media event held here yesterday and got some serious hands-on time with the new console. The Media Center extender functionality looks very slick, but from what we saw, the games are a bit of a mixed bag. Call of Duty, Need for Speed, and Condemned were among the better-looking titles, with graphics that seemed to be on a par with top-of-the-line PC gaming rigs. Several other titles fell a bit short, including the much-hyped Oblivion, which suffered from jerky animation and wonky controls. Just today, that game was pushed back to December, giving the developers more time to tweak it.