New TV Features in Media Center 7
The most significant changes in Media Center 7 relate to its TV viewing and recording functionality. In particular, Media Center 7 can now be used to view both broadcast television and Internet TV.
You can see this change when you access the Program Guide. Media Center now includes several "virtual channels"Internet TV programming from MSN and other partners (see Figure 3). You access these virtual channels the same way you do regular television channels; just make sure that you're connected to the Internet, of course. Expect to see more Internet TV channels added over time, as Microsoft signs up more partners.
Figure 3 Media Center 7's Program Guide, complete with Internet TV offerings.
Another change in the Program Guide is the ability to move quickly from day to day. Hold down the arrow button on your wireless remote to start what Microsoft calls turbo scroll. The listings move too fast to view individually, but the days of the week float over the listings so you have an idea where you are chronologically.
You can sort through all the programs you've recorded by date recorded, title, and air date. When you play a recorded program, you can jump backward and forward through the recording by using the onscreen time marker. New to Media Center 7 is the live thumbnail that appears when you drag the time marker, so you can see precisely what's happening at any point in the program.
Finally, any TV program or video you're watching now appears dissolved in the background when you shift out of viewing mode into Media Center's menu system. Previously, you could only view the playing program in a small window at the bottom of the screen; the dissolved background view is much, much cooler (see Figure 4).
Figure 4 A TV show "dissolved" in the background behind the main menu.