My buddy asked me what’s next for my home theater and it got me thinking. The next home theater upgrade for me is the Harmony One universal remote. No question about that. It is still my #1 wanted (needed) piece of equipment my list.
Blu-Ray capability comes next at a fairly close #2. After that, there is nothing else I need and will probably wait more than a year to consider more upgrades. When that time comes, it will be to upgrade the receiver to HDMI switching/upconverting, Dolby Digital Plus / Dolby True HD, plus other features like a built in satellite tuner and media streaming via home network. That is really refreshing equipment I am currently happy with, so my speakers would fall into that category as well.
So what happened to the HTPC? Originally, a media center PC was next on my list and it was to include a Blu-Ray player, but there are several reasons why I am not going to do that, yet. First off, I already have a great PC connected to my home theater that can do 4.1 sound, 1080P, and can handle most gaming (nVidia 7900 SLI). Also, I can listen to Pandora, stream NetFlix, sort photos, play MP3’s, check my email… all the great things a PC can do.
I was originally going to build a new media center PC (HTPC) for: Vista Media Center, replace my DVR, Blu-Ray player, 5.1 sound, and upgraded gaming. But, Vista sucks, I don’t do much PC gaming anymore (all my friends just play WoW) and you still can’t use your PC as DVR because of the Cable Labs Cable Card OEM restriction.
That leaves Blu-Ray capability. I considered just adding a decent Blu-Ray drive to my current PC for about $180, but realized I would still need to upgrade the video cards, sound card, & software which brought me right back to square one; a whole new HTPC that I could probably piece together for $1500. It would be a fun project, but it is just not in the cards right now.
So, coming full circle and being a NetFlix fan-boy, a standalone Blu-Ray player makes the most sense especially with the prices coming down and the Blu-Ray selection increasing. Even though I have NetFlix streaming, it is still not the quality and selection of Blu-Ray. So that is next… right after I get the Harmony.
This is just a short review of my wireless keyboard and mouse I am using for my home theater. I ended up getting the Logitech Wave Pro.
Overall, I love it. It serves the primary purpose of removing the tether to the media center PC. I can stash the keyboard next to the couch or in the coffee table drawer. While I don’t type at it for long periods of time, I’ve already used many times. For instance, prior to the Super Bowl, we surfed through some of the banned commercials while kicking back with some Buffalo wings and beer. (The PETA ad has become quite famous already)
Some additional things that I really like about this model are:
- Adjustable mouse precision
- Mouse feel, weight, programmable keys
- Mouse doesn’t need mouse pad (works right on the couch)
- Battery life is excellent which you can switch off, and it has an LED indicator
- Programmable keys work nicely like the rest of Logitech’s products
- Keyboard is fairly thin and has a nice hand rest
- Wireless works well with the USB dongle in the rear of PC and there is no lag time
However, there is one nuance I would be amiss to not mention here since I pained so much over my choice. The “wave” of the keyboard is annoying like I find on all non-standard ergonomic keyboards. I don’t type on it for long periods of time to get used to it, but it is sufficient for my needs. It works fine for gaming, but maybe not your uber-gamer who is better off at a desk anyway. The Microsoft keyboard may have been better in this respect, but it more expensive and hard to find.