I have great hopes for these products. I have been using a Media Zone Arkos device in the reference room as a concept demonstration device for some time now and its been fantastic. Its ability to record free to air TV, display internet and digital photos, seamlessly store and replay CDs, and show off with high def downloads has been unsurpassed, however it remains a slightly touchy Microsoft driven piece of complex electronica that is best taken up by an enthusiast rather than a casual day to day user. The Windows media software is fantastic in some ways but frustrating in others, such as recording DVD's....

Nevertheless this generic product type is inexorably creeping into the mainstream and we are introducing a couple of new devices that show great promise:
The well known shuttle company has a new slimline top of the range media PC called the T2500 that is factory supported and can be seen at its distributor website here: MMT

In addition the highly respected local company Alloys International has a well finished large case device that comes in at around $3300 with HDMI out and a brilliant video performance. This is the matured design of much potential that their tech guru Phil Gibb has been developing with great thoroughness for the past 18 months. Runnning this with a NASA download into the Sharp 65 inch LCD is an experience that frankly leaves Blue Ray in the dust in its present incarnation.

Keep an eye on this market segment as an outstanding platform for visual entertainment. For fun we are running an X Box linked to the Alloys device. The X Box itself is a Media Centre driven front end with streaming capability off one of these PC devices. This works quite well although there is a noticeable qualitative loss in the visuals. Soon we wont have to leave the house at all...