Good idea alert: A newish site, Wirewize, tells you how to connect the gizmos in your home entertainment center. You tell it what you have, and it tells you which cables you need and then, very specifically, where to plug them.
It's a great idea, since most entertainment systems are unique in one way or another, and the manuals that come with AV gear rarely cover all the bases, not to mention that they're written at varying levels of clarity. To remind you of that, the service also provides the PDF manuals for your products.
I enjoy wiring things together and tinkering until everything works, but the consumer electronics challenges that I like working through would probably send most people back to Best Buy with their purchases. But even for CE geeks like me, there is good advice in Wirewize.
I did not find all my AV equipment listed in the Wirewize database, which did not surprise me since some of my gear is no longer sold, but I was surprised to find some manufacturers left out entirely. The site is still young, though.
Wirewize makes money by selling cables, currently through Circuit City. I give the service big props for not pushing those ridiculously overpriced Monster Cables, although I would still chafe at paying $45 for the 100 feet of speaker wire the system recommended to me. You can get the same wire at Radio Shack for $20, and probably for even less at a hardware store.
Monster would be a natural to buy this company, of course. But I hope it doesn't. Come to think of it, CNET should buy it. Let me look into that.
The company also has a paid support line. Smart.
Bonus tip for the Wirewize team: Talk to Logitech. Both your service and Logitech's popular Harmony remote controls require that the user enter the inventory of their AV gear. It'd be great if you could coordinate, for those people who have Harmonys and want to also use Wirewize.