Most Tom’s Hardware readers are technology-savvy enough to appreciate the concept of a home-theater PC (HTPC), but many of us still don’t have one. There are plenty of good reasons not to own one, from stifling DRM policies to the cost compared to increasingly-functional gaming consoles.
One of the most difficult obstacles for the industry to overcome is that many potential users simply don’t want to see yet another PC in their living room. Of course, in this context, we're reminded of the boring beige box making more noise than a theater-based component really should.
For some of us, computers that look like 1980s hi-fi components don’t go far enough towards hiding the geeky underpinnings. So, we sought out a couple of cases to address the classic "wife approval factor," which, given that the stigma of having too much tech can affect any type of relationship, could be updated to read “social-acceptance factor.”
Casual observers will probably overlook the two cases we found, not even recognizing them as PCs. The wooden unit could visually pass as a retro-themed radio, while the black unit, if properly placed, could be mistaken for a somewhat flashier-than-normal subwoofer.
Aesthetic opinions vary, while our greater interests are hardware capacity and performance. Let’s take a closer look at what these two puppies can do.