One set top box (DVR) to rule them all?

We reveal what the ultimate home theatre PC would look like

The ultimate set-top box/high-def DVR

The ultimate set-top box/high-def DVR

The Pitch: Our ultimate set-top box/high-def DVR is a home theater PC that's quiet and turns on in seconds. (That's not an impossible dream either: Microsoft has thought about it, and ASrock has motherboards that use an advanced standby state to boot Windows in around 4 seconds).

A PC-based DVR lets you hand-pick and upgrade hardware (drives, tuners, CableCards), manage codecs, and use add-ons like DVRMSToolbox, ShowAnalyzer or ComSkip to automatically detect and skip commercials. We'd follow the lead of MythTV and make ad-skipping standard...

Our interface blends the slick look and networking chops of Windows 7 Media Center with TiVo's ease of use; the latter already runs on PCs via Nero's Liquid TV kit.

Wireless Keyboard, Streaming Features: The concept you see pictured (rendered to our spec by Brian Christie Design) includes a keyboard for PC tasks and Internet use. Our SlingLoaded DVR also lets you schedule from, and stream to, any Web device. Further options: Use a remote server to record or stream shows (inspired by actual Cablevision plans), or share live TV with friends (as on Monsoon's HAVA boxes with SociableTV).

Detachable Touch Remote: Though influenced by Asus's Eee Keyboard PC, our touchscreen also functions as a detachable remote control/minitablet that communicates with the DVR through Wi-Fi or infrared.

Touch Display: Interface to adjust settings without a TV, to display the program guide, and more. Can be switched off.

Media Drives: Blu-ray/DVD to play movies, back up recordings and rip discs. Portable media drive has HDMI and works with the remote.

Parts List (Inspiration)

Luxa2 LM300 Touch Pro

What we took: Stunning bare-bones case to build your own DVR; has a 7-inch touch LCD. More.

Okoro Media Systems GX100

What we took: High-end pre-built HTPC is controlled via a bundled Nokia Internet tablet. More.

Asus Eee Keyboard PC

What we took: We borrowed design cues from this Windows XP computer-in-a-keyboard. More.

Popcorn Hour A-110

What we took: Portable media drive/streamer with HDMI, Wi-Fi, and built-in BitTorrent. More.

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Danny Allen

PC World (US online)
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