Media Centers, Decent Audio, and Aesthetics

I keep looking for a good media center solution for the new house. I want something that looks great, and preforms well. Something that won’t cost me an arm and a leg like the Beo Sound 5, which clocks in at over 5 grand not including speakers. Plus the Beo Sound only handles audio. I want something that does all media types.

So as I have been looking, one of the things that has been driving me crazy is just how butt ugly most media components are. That and the fact that they all seem to be missing something. I thought when Apple introduced the Apple TV they would have been smart enough to first include a cable card slot and or a tuner. Second I thought they would have been smart enough to make sure the audio out ran through the HDMI cable and not component. If they had done this, it would have been a killer system. On September 9th they have an upgrade announcement, and I hope it shows a giant leap forward for them. On the other hand almost all Windows based media systems just look bad. They look like the hardware was an after thought. I have to say that in most cases this is true for almost all stereo and home theater gear. It’s like lets just take this stuff and cram it in a black box and give the user a cheap remote.

Chinese designer Jean Hong has come up with a small media center concept for Harmon Kardon named “Sowl” this unit would connect wirelessly probably through Wifi to your local network, and locates or updates different files to download  onto the system for playback. All you have to do is to place yourself comfortably on your sofa and control the system with the universal remote control. And look, it’s not ugly! It’s a stylish piece of equipment that appears to be well thought out. Even the remote looks nice. It’s the kind of hardware that you wouldn’t mind having out in your house. I like the idea that this could look nice enough that it isn’t hidden in some oversized cabinet that houses all your media gear.

Now if someone could just come up with a decent way to do wireless speakers that sound really nice then I would be so happy.

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