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All about the unique media centre PC

March 20, 2007 12:04 IST
The cricket fever is at its best but most of us can't watch 50 matches in one month. There's a way out. You can watch them at your leisure with a media centre PC that can play movies, burn DVDs, record TV games and even allow you to surf the Internet.

The magic is performed with the TV tuner card. You can also get a media centre PC with dual tuners, so you can watch the match while recording it simultaneously. A decent Windows media centre PC will cost a Rs 30,000 upwards.

Flat screens: It would be a pity if you opt for a media centre without upgrading your computer monitor or the television set (powered by PC) to a flat-screen panel.

Undoubtedly, the upcoming World Cup has given a fillip to LCD panels. There is a wide array of flat panel TVs and monitors by Philips, LG, Sony, Hitachi, Samsung and Lenovo to name a few.

Sony is good but costly: The latest to make a splash was Sony with its VAIO L series, a concept all-in-one PC that promises a marriage of both style and function. A 15.4" LCD display will suffice as far as watching a match is concerned.

Although the embedded sound reality audio chip and a pair of 3W speakers might not blow you away, but a foldable keyboard, touch pad, Intel's Core 2 Duo T5600 1.83GHz processor, a 120GB hard drive and 1GB of DDR2 SDRAM would make you nod your head in acceptance. Ahem, it's not for the masses simply because it is priced at a steep Rs 89,990.

Speakers and headsets: And let's not forget that nobody likes to fight off the tangle of wires, especially when Sachin Tendulkar, Dhoni or Saurav Ganguly would be on the grounds. So, the answer is to get top notch speakers or headsets (preferably noise cancellation ones) to help you listen to every decibel uttered.

The Rs 110, Rs 130 and the Rs 140 wireless headsets by Sennheiser are value for money. The Rs 110 has a range of about 100 metres and will cost you Rs 5,790 (and yeah you have to keep it running on batteries).

The Rs 130 headset comes with a charging station (along with rechargeable batteries) bundled, all within the MRP of Rs 10,900. If you can afford to fork out Rs 13,990, then the Rs 140 is recommended. Both, Rs 130 and Rs 140, use FM wireless transmission, with an enhanced range of up to 150 metres and an impressive signal-to-noise performance.

The headsets feature Intelligent Auto Tuning that automatically chooses the best of three available base-to-headset channels for low-distortion, noise-free operation and are a delight while watching television or computer.

The base stations (bundled) incorporate on-hook charging for their headsets' integral NiMH batteries (lasts for approx 20 hours), automatically refreshing these memory-effect immune cells whenever they are replaced on their holders. The Rs 130 and 140 headsets give TV sounds that are best described as crystal clear.

Priyanka Joshi in New Delhi