The AccessoriesI don’t like to think about it, but the death of my PC, could have ended much more tragically. When I first woke up and thought that I had lost all of my data, I went through all 5 stages of grief. At first, I tried to deny that there was a problem, then I got angry at myself for not listening to Thomas Hawk’s advice, this was followed by plenty of promises to be more diligent, if I could only figure out how to fix it and when I ultimately realized it was toast, depression set in over the loss. When I finally realized that my problems had nothing to do with my data, acceptance was easy because it meant that I was going to be able to transfer my digital life into an entirely new media experience.

Three years ago, I made the mistake of buying a computer from my work. They had extra ones lying around and I liked the idea of having access to Windows Office. The computer was old, but still an upgrade from my Windows 98 PC. At first I thought that this was a good solution, but what I didn’t realize, was that my work had stripped out all of the media related functionality. It ran on just a half a gig of ram, had no CD or DVD burner, the video card couldn’t support higher resolutions and somehow they managed to disable the microphone :(

As a media nut, this was a brutal mistake to make for a home PC, so when it came time to get a new one, I wanted to make sure that I had access to everything. Whether it’s being able to handle PC gaming or being able to stream digital video straight off the web, I wanted to make sure that I had as many options as possible.

Here are the specs for the gadget fans.

DI-700-XFIRE: Intel 700-class Crossfire workstation
Case: Cooler Master Centurion 5 Mid-tower
Processor: Intel Core 2 Duo E6850 3GHz Dual Core 1333MHz FSB 4MB cache
Motherboard: ASUS P5W DH Deluxe (Intel 975X)
DDR2 Memory: 4GB Dual-channel: 4 x 1024MB DDR2 667 MHz PC5300
Hard Drive with Serial ATA 2 interface: 320GB 16MB cache 7200RPM SATA2 Best value
Hard Drive #2 with Serial ATA interface: 320GB 16MB cache 7200RPM SATA2 Best value
Serial ATA RAID: RAID Level 1 (mirroring)
Optical Drive : 18x SATA Dual-Layer DVD±RW w/ Software
Crossfire Video Card: Two X1650 Pro 256MB for Crossfire mode
Removable Storage Device(s): Internal 8-in-1 Card Reader
Sound Card: On-board high-definition sound system
Network Card: Integrated LAN with 10/100/1000 Fast Ethernet Controller
Input/Output capabilities: Refer to the motherboard chosen.
TV Tuner: Dual-channel TV-Tuner with PVR software
Additional Case Fan: Extra case fan
Power Supply: 500 Watt Crossfire/SLI ATX power supply with 120mm fan
CPU Cooling: Manufacturer’s CPU Fan
Operating Systems (OS): Microsoft Windows Vista Home Premium Edition

I’m looking forward to the extra horsepower, but the dual tuners excite me the most. Even with two tuners in my TiVo 3, I still run into recording conflicts. I don’t know why certain nights are so popular, but I don’t like having to make choices because of bogus :03 start times.

Media Center will be a change of pace over TiVo, but I’m looking forwarding to seeing the progress they’ve made with the Vista platform. Initially, I plan on using my Xbox 360 as an extender, but care far too much about having access to the internet, to stick with that for too long. Microsoft’s WebTV may have never taken off, but for me, open access is the killer app.

I’m also excited to finally be able to start exploring some of the other DVR solutions out there. Over the years, I’ve read an awful lot about SageTV, BeyondTV, and MythTV, but have never been able to fully evaluate the differences in their approach to the DVR. I feel like I made the right choices on the components that I selected, but won’t know for sure until, it finally arrives and I get a chance to test it under real world conditions :)