Sunday, August 03, 2008

Vista in the living room

For some reason, I am obsessed with putting computers all around the house. Now that we have an HDTV in the living room, I've revived my quest of an internet-connected experience in the living room.

I've been waiting for a Windows PC to really take on the form factor of the Apple Mac Mini. Sure, there's always the Shuttle and some specialty PC makers that have home theatre PCs (aka HTPC), but they often run into the $1000s and aren't that small.

Then there is the Apple TV, Windows Media Extenders like the Linksys DMA2100, the Roku Netflix box, and others. While these have simple interfaces they are limited in what they can view and download. I'd like something more flexible.

Then Dell comes out with the Studio Hybrid Desktop. This looks very promising. Sort of similar to the line of Sony VAIO HTPCs, but less expensive.

Starting at $499, it comes with HDMI and DVI output and Windows Vista Home Basic (I didn't know anyone still sold that). So upgraded with decent specs and a real version of Vista, it comes to $1122:
  • Vista Home Premium
  • Intel Core 2 Duo T5850
  • 3GB RAM
  • 320GB hard drive
  • Blu Ray/DVD-RW
  • Media Center remote
Unfortunately, unlike the Dell XPS 420 you cannot get an optional digital cable tuner. :-(

I will be keeping an eye on this new development, and waiting for other manufacturers to follow suit.

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