Media Master

Many technophiles now center their home entertainment activities on their computers, but monitors and speakers still cannot deliver a rich entertainment experience for an entire family. Thus, the media center was born—a computer designed to interface easily with large TVs and surround-sound systems, with software focused on home-entertainment functions. One of the most graceful designs in this category is the Maingear Axess HD, which incorporates a DVD or Blu-ray player, a digital high-definition TV tuner with TiVo-like functions, iPod-like music-server capability, and display of your favorite photos into an elegant, minimalist chassis. With as much as two terabytes of internal data storage available, practically any CD and photo collections can be stored, along with hundreds of hours of HD TV programming. All of it can be accessed through an ordinary-looking remote control. Prices start at $1,395; a fully loaded model commands about twice that. (888.MAINGEAR, www.maingear.com)

—Brent Butterworth      

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