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Alienware Hangar18 Media Center PC Print E-mail
Friday, 09 May 2008
ImageThe Basics:
The Alienware Hangar18 is a highly configurable Windows Media Center PC, with different disc drive options, hard drive sizes, RAM levels and peripherals. Its base price is $2229, but the specs above reflect one of the highest-end configurations, with a 2TB hard drive, 4GB of RAM and an integrated, slot-loading Blu-ray/DVD/CD burner. One option we did not include is the Media Center Extender upgrade, which adds a Linksys extender and 802.11n capability, recommended for those who want to stream HD video; this feature ups the price to $4533.

The Hangar18 has a well-rounded connection panel, with HDMI, VGA and component video outputs. For audio, you can use HDMI or your choice of optical/coaxial digital outputs. This product contains its own 1,000-watt five-channel amplifier, so you can attach speakers directly to it, with a subwoofer output to direct bass to an outboard sub. There are four USB 2.0 ports, two FireWire ports, a 4-in-1 card reader (SD/MMC, CF, Memory Stick, Smart Media), and dual NTSC/ATSC tuners to record up to four shows (or two HD shows) at once. The inclusion of digital audio inputs allows you to connect other sources to be played through an attached speaker system. IR blasters are available to control your set-top box and headphone/microphone jacks are included.

The Hangar18 has a traditional A/V form factor with a more distinctive front panel, with a single-line LCD and the company’s signature Alien-shaped power button. The package includes a motion-sensitive Gyration remote, which eliminates the need for a mouse when you’re navigating outside of the Media Center interface. Alienware also throws in a Philips over-the-air HDTV antenna for use with the internal tuners.
The Upside:
The Hangar18 offers excellent digital connectivity, a large hard drive and ample RAM. The addition of a Blu-ray burner is a major perk and the HDMI output supports 1080p. The system is highly configurable to suit your exact needs and the Gyration remote is a nice peripheral that makes it easier to control your PC.

The Downside:
There have been some reported issues with Blu-ray playback via the Cyberlink software, which is not part of Windows Media Center. The Hangar18 doesn’t have internal CableCARD or Clear-QAM tuners and it lacks analog audio outputs to pass high-resolution audio from a Blu-ray disc.

The Hangar18 is a reasonably priced, full-featured Media Center PC with a Blu-ray burner. You can add external CableCARD tuners; however, as is, the Hangar18 is a better fit for the person who wants dual-tuner DVR functionality for SDTV or over-the-air HDTV. With its built-in amplification, it can also serve as a true A/V hub.

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