Soon The Ultimate Media Center Will Be Mine

I’m in a tech upgrading frenzy!

Last week I ordered some RAM for my laptop because I realized that my poor Sarah only had 512MB of RAM.  I know!  Not enough.  This machine is 3 years old, plus I couldn’t get the one with bigger RAM originally as it was more than I had to spend.  Now that memory is cheap I can soup her up a bit.  The laptop can take up to 2GB, so that’s what I put in it.

Fiddling around with it made me realize that, since I have a proper day job now, my laptop is no longer really my “work” computer.  I use it far more than my desktop since I like hanging out in the living room with my roommates.  Before I was confined to my bedroom a lot, so I used them both.

My desktop has a few issues, including a slowly dying DVD-RW drive.  (I’ve been trying to fix that problem for a year and finally figured out that it can’t read CDs but can read DVDs — I also discovered that it had no drive letter assigned… gah.)  But I solved most of those yesterday by assigning a drive letter, finally ditching MusicMatch Jukebox (I hate how Yahoo ruins everything), uninstalling a bunch of programs and running the defrag.

I decided that I’m going to turn my desktop into an entertainment center.  Since it has a bigger hard drive, lives in my bedroom, and has the potential for a stationary setup, it’s a much better computer to use for watching TV and movies, listening to music, and playing games.  Now I just need to trick it out a bit.

I already have a good set of speakers.  A great set, actually.  I also have a card that will take a coaxial cable input so I can watch basic cable (I’m pretty sure it’ll convert stuff, but I should check).  Of course it has wireless so I can stream Hulu and whatnot.  I wish my wireless was better/faster, but I don’t know if the card is crappy or our router just can’t get a strong signal through the walls.  (Old buildings and all that.)  Thus I am reluctant to replace it.  If I were a true gamer I would upgrade the graphics card, but really I just want to run over old ladies in GTA, so I’ll keep what I have (which is pretty good, anyway).

The desktop also only has 512MB of RAM, but has run all of my games fine so far.  Still, an upgrade to 2 gigs wouldn’t cost much and would probably improve GTA if nothing else. NewEgg has Crucial brand 1GB for $23, so less than $50 for two.

I’ll need a new second DVD drive because partially functioning hardware shouldn’t be left in for too long, lest it cause other problems.  Though Byron suggested I get a Blu-ray burner, I am happy to just get a drive that does dual-layer discs as well as all the plus and minus R RW etc.  This drive got some good reviews and is $25.  Woot!

The biggest and most important new part I’ll need is a new LCD monitor.  The one I have now is 15 inches, but if I’m going to watch video on it, I’ll need something bigger.  I’m going for 22″, but I dream of 24″.  This 22″ from Acer seems to be a really good value and has good ratings everywhere I’ve looked.  At $167 it’ll be another paycheck or two before I can afford it, but it’s not a bad price at all.  Ooo, and it’s slightly less refurbished.  Ooo, I can get it in town and not have to wait for shipping.

I suppose a 28″ would be overkill… but it’s 43% off!  (…$463…)

This brings the total to: $242

Soon I shall have the ultimate media center!  I will watch Sarah Connor on glorious widescreen… mmm widescreen.

The last thing I need to do is call and find out if Time Warner will run another coaxial cable into my bedroom.  Then I can get basic cable through my DVR card.  It’s not really great video, but it’s preferable to putting in a TV.

What else should I add to my computer to make it an amazing media monstrosity?