We take a bit of a tangent on Installment 005 just to keep things interesting. We do continue with analyzing the subsystem components of the Windows Media Center PC itself by taking a look at several options for video. Naturally, the choices here are part and parcel with the audio requirements and implementation. Ian and I then divert a bit into looking at a product like the HP TouchSmart (http://www.shopping.hp.com/webapp/shopping/store_access.do?template_type=product_detail&product_code=FK783AA%23ABA&jumpid=oc_R1002_USENC-001_HP%20TouchSmart%20IQ816%20Desktop%20PC&lang=en&cc=us) and some of the obstacles an integrator might face when trying to incorporate similar products into a multi room design within the home. Some of the concepts we discuss will become the foundation for evaluating the myriad of options available when designing the infrastructure wiring and support systems in later installments.
At the time of this posting (March 2009), there are very few options available for a “real” HDMI-based audio/video solution for the Windows Media Center PCs. One of the better products out there that most OEMs are getting ready to roll out within the next three months or so is the ASUS Xonar HDAV1.3 (http://www.asus.com/news_show.aspx?id=11638). They have been demonstrating this card for a while, but it is not until recently that they finally have gotten the bugs worked out. Although it appeared to work with certain content, it failed to decode the lossless codecs properly for all content types and sources. It finally is getting certification from “the powers that be” and should be available shortly.