I was just looking, wasn't planning to buy. But it looked up at me with pleading puppy-dog eyes that said "Please take me home!" Plus it was on sale.
Not talking about a dog, of course. I'm talking about my new computer. My 2001-era desktop had been pressing up against its limitations for some time, and the keyboard on my laptop was starting to act up. I had actually gone to the office supply superstore to look for a USB keyboard for the laptop (which they didn't have.) I strayed over an aisle or two, and started to look around.
They probably wanted to clear space for the latest models, for I found a heavily-marked down Hewlett-Packard M1170N Windows XP Media Center computer. While I wasn't totally sure if I needed all of Microsoft's media bells and whistles, the hardware itself was an excellent price.
This review will just look at the hardware itself, while somewhere down the line I'll take a look at the Media Center software. The official name for this computer is actually "HP Media Center m1170n Photosmart PC". It's meant to be the centerpiece of all your digital entertainment, including audio, video, and photos.
If you look at its picture on the right, the first thing you will notice is lots and lots of ports. At the top are four slots that give it the "Photosmart" name, for they are slots that accept the four dominant types of flash memory cards from digital cameras. Rather than rely on slow cable connections to download your photos, you can just pop out your memory card and pop it into the appropriate slot. The card temporarily becomes another disk drive on the computer, and you can quickly download your photos.
On the bottom right of the computer are two USB 2.0 ports (four more are in the back of the computer), a Firewire port (another one in back), a headphone port, a mike port, three RCA-type composite video plugs, and an S-video port. The back of the computer has all the standard computer connectors (PS/2 for mouse and keyboard, VGA, Ethernet, parallel, serial) plus extra connectors for surround-sound speakers, digital audio in and out, a coaxial connector (for cable TV), an FM antenna connector, and another S-Video. In other words, you can hook up a whole lot of stuff to this computer.