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Desktops

HP Pavilion Media Centre M7390

A marked improvement over HP's previous media centre offerings, the m7390's powerful internal components and free IceGuide subscription look certain to justify its high price tag.

The Pavilion m7390 is the new flag bearer for HP's media centre PC range. It appears to be a marked improvement over previous products in the range, both in terms of appearance and functionality.

Upside
Most users of media centre PCs demand above-average power, since they often perform intensive tasks such as recording a TV show whilst gaming. Fittingly, the m7390 is packed with some serious grunt -- a dual-core Intel Pentium D 930 (3GHz) processor, 2GB of DDR2 memory and an Nvidia GeForce 6600 graphics card.

Raw power aside, a media centre's storage subsystem must be top notch. Again, the m7390 delivers with a 250GB hard drive, a DVD writer and a 9-in-1 card reader that supports all of the major formats.

A single digital TV tuner is included, and this coupled with the bundled media centre remote and optional 19" HP VS19e LCD display makes for pleasant TV viewing.

If there's one major factor that will draw avid TV junkies to the m7390 it's the free 12 month subscription to IceGuide. IceGuide is an electronic program guide (EPG) that provides a seven-day forecast of what's on TV, and it supports all of the major free-to-air TV networks. Using IceGuide, you're able to easily schedule recordings with a single remote click.

Six-channel analog and S/PDIF digital audio ports are provided, so connection to an external sound system should prove painless.

Downside
Unlike many media centre PCs, the m7390 doesn't boast dual TV tuners, so you're unable to watch one channel whilst recording another.

The Nvidia GeForce 6600 is a mid-range graphics card, so it may struggle providing completely smooth frame rates in the latest games.

As is typical of HP media centres, the m7390 uses a tower chassis, which despite boasting an attractive design may be an odd fit for some living rooms.

Outlook
A marked improvement over HP's previous media centre offerings, the m7390's powerful internal components and free IceGuide subscription look certain to justify its high price tag.

The m7390 comes with an industry standard one-year parts and labour warranty. It can be purchased with a 19-inch HP VS19e LCD monitor for AU$3599, or without it for AU$2900.

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