A PC would make the perfect home entertainment system: TiVo-like personal video recorder, networked MP3 jukebox, six-speaker Dolby 5.1 sound, all rolled into one. But it isn't easy to find a system like that off the shelf, and it’s been way too hard to put one together. Until now. Brian Underdahl shows you how, one tiny step at a time.
Underdahl begins by selecting components for your underlying PC and then walking you through assembly -- with plenty of photos for critical steps like installing your processor's heatsink. We've seen lots of walkthroughs of PC building over the years, and this is among the better ones.
You'll walk through installing your AGP video card and TV tuner (Underdahl recomments the ATI All-inWonder Radeon 8500 DV, which does both jobs, but suggests the XFX FeForce4 Ti4200 if you prefer to keep video and TV separate). There's a full chapter on sound, and another on storage (everything from ATA/133 hard drives and RAID options to painting your floppy drive to match the beautiful silver case Underdahl has spec'd).
Underdahl also shows you how to configure your media software (including the nifty SnapStream, which can even send video to your Pocket PC via wireless), finding and playing content, adding goodies like game controllers, and more. Best of all, he's selected components and software that will definitely work together -- which isn't always the case when you're talking about this stuff. You won't have to bury yourself in support newsgroups for the next six months to get the darned thing working. Bill Camarda
Bill Camarda is a consultant, writer, and web/multimedia content developer. His 15 books include Special Edition Using Word 2000 and Upgrading & Fixing Networks for Dummies, Second Edition.