A quad-core, Blu-ray, media-center desktop for $479.99

This compact system has everything you need for home-theater happiness, including a TV tuner, a remote, a Blu-ray drive, and 802.11n Wi-Fi. If it matters, it's a refurb.

HP's ultra-compact Pavilion is stuffed with home theater-friendly features. HP

If you're in the market for a PC to serve as the hub of your home theater, look no further than the refurbished HP Pavilion Slimline S3750F. It's compact, loaded, and on sale at Buy.com for $479.99 shipped.

As many of you pointed out in last weekend's post about the Nero LiquidTV TiVo PC , Windows Media Center offers some pretty killer DVR features.

I agree 100 percent, which is why there's a PC much like this HP sitting in my family room, connected to my TV.

The S3750F features a quad-core AMD processor, 4GB of RAM, a 640GB hard drive, and a Blu-ray drive/LightScribe DVD burner.

It also comes with an AverMedia ATSC/NTSC TV tuner, which can pull in analog cable or over-the-air digital signals. My advice: add a couple extra tuners so you can record multiple shows from multiple sources simultaneously. (Thursday night is just a bear this year, isn't it?)

HP supplies a remote for couch-friendly operation and 802.11n Wi-Fi for wireless-friendly operation.

My one and only complaint with this system (apart from the 90-day warranty, which I consider minor) is that it comes with Vista Home Premium, not Windows 7. And because it's a refurb, it's not eligible for a free upgrade.

Still, I'm running Vista on my media-center PC, and it's been absolutely fine and dandy. In other words, an upgrade isn't essential, IMHO.

Shop around a bit and you'll see this system selling for at least $800 elsewhere, and as high as $1,000 at many stores (including Amazon). A desktop this loaded for $479 is a real deal.

 

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