Desktop cinema: Bringing the home theatre to your PC

The niche of the home entertainment market described above is dominated by the PC. And it makes sense: here’s a machine that can do anything. Stream music and video off a hard drive or the web, play any optical format (including Blu-ray), and act as the ultimate communications tool, from SMS to video phone calls.

Desktop cinema can also be cost effective. For the price of a big TV, you can get an entire system. An entertainment-focused notebook PC, a 24 inch (60cm) monitor, and a DAC and T-class amp attached to a set of speakers.

Or you could go for a tower-style PC, which offers even better bang-for-buck than a notebook. And this brings us to the next great thing about desktop cinema: customisation. You can choose whatever parts you like. The display, the speakers, the various bits inside the PC.

And after that you can choose what you want to watch. Traditional DVDs? Movies downloaded via Bigpond? TV shows from iTunes? Or you could even get lost among the myriad 720p YouTube videos that are cropping up nowadays.

Okay, so your desktop cinema won’t accommodate the whole family. It’s for the study or a smaller room. You need to sit close to the screen, headphones on. It’s a more intimate, personal entertainment experience. But sometimes, that’s just what you want.

Let’s take a closer look at some of the individual elements.