Make Your PC a Man-Cave Media Center

Your Windows 7-powered PC is equipped to anchor an awesome entertainment center. Here's everything else you need.

By Rick Broida, PC World |  Software, home entertainment, Windows Media Center

The interface looks and operates exactly as if you were sitting in front of your PC. And there's no added The only overhead is the one-time setup procedure linking Xbox and PC.

Unfortunately, you won't be able to watch Blu-ray (or even DVD) movies via your Xbox. (Thanks, DRM.) Also, you can't use PC speakers with an Xbox--so if you want killer audio, your only practical option is to add a receiver to the mix. And finally, your Xbox will need a wired connection to your home-network router; wireless just doesn't cut it, especially for streaming high-definition video.

Don't Forget the Remote Control

Ready to hit the couch? You still need one crucial accessory: a remote. We've long been partial to the Logitech Harmony One, which incorporates a color touchscreen for performing multitask activities (such as turning on the TV while switching the receiver to the proper mode). It works especially well with Windows Media Center, since many of its buttons map perfectly to the interface.

If your PC lacks an IR receiver, however, you'll need to add one. Our advice: Head to eBay and search for "Windows Media Center remote." For as little as $15, you should be able to find a bundle that includes a remote and a receiver. You can use the former if you want or stick it in a drawer as a backup.

Finally, if you own an iPhone or an iPod Touch, you can go the app route. For just $5, HippoRemote Pro provides full control over Windows Media Center. You don't even need an IR receiver--just a small Windows utility that permits your Apple device and your PC to communicate over your Wi-Fi network.

Have any Media Center PC tips of your own? Share them in the comments!

Originally published on PC World |  Click here to read the original story.
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