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Buy a media-center extender for $169.99, get a free Xbox 360

Well, not really: You're actually getting an Xbox 360 Core system, which doubles as a damn fine media-center extender.

Rick Broida Senior Editor
Rick Broida is the author of numerous books and thousands of reviews, features and blog posts. He writes CNET's popular Cheapskate blog and co-hosts Protocol 1: A Travelers Podcast (about the TV show Travelers). He lives in Michigan, where he previously owned two escape rooms (chronicled in the ebook "I Was a Middle-Aged Zombie").
Rick Broida

I admit it: That headline is a bit misleading. But let me 'splain. Not many people know that the Xbox 360 can double as a media-center extender, meaning it can stream to your TV all the videos, photos, music, and whatnot stored on your PC. To my thinking, it's superior to all the standalone extender products because a) It's cheaper; and b) It's an Xbox! (As you might have heard, they're not bad with the games.)

All of which brings us to my bit of headline trickery: CompUSA has refurbished Xbox 360 Core systems on sale for $169.99 (plus $15-ish for shipping). Now, the Core model is the baseline Xbox, meaning it has no hard drive for game storage and comes with a wired controller instead of the famed wireless one. Xbox zealots typically scoff themselves silly at the mere thought of buying a Core. But look at it another way: For $170, you're getting a killer deal on a media-center extender, with one of the world's best gaming consoles thrown in. (You can always add a hard drive, wireless controllers, etc. later on if you're so inclined.)

What do you think? Does my take make sense, or am I cuckoo for recommending a Core system? I'm more into media-center stuff than I am gaming, so if you're anything like me (and if you are: get help), this really is smart buy.