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HP Media Center TV m7690y

At a Glance
  • HP Media Center TV m7690y

    PCWorld Rating

    Media-centric system performed very well for a value PC; with its TV tuner, it could replace your living-room DVR.

The ability to capture and enjoy media is at the heart of the Hewlett-Packard Media Center TV m7690y. This $1000 system (as of November 6, 2006) runs Windows XP Media Center Edition and includes a TV tuner for recording television shows. Our test system also came with a remote control and with audio support for up to 5.1 channels of surround sound.

Among the m7690y's multitude of design conveniences is its variety of ports. On the front of the silver case, a sliding cover hides an array of video and audio inputs, plus two USB 2.0 ports and a FireWire port. The system's integrated audio decoder has SPDIF inputs and outputs, useful for connecting it to a satellite or cable TV box or to a stereo receiver.

On the back of the case is a bay for HP's Personal Media Drive, a removable hard drive that you can operate in the system, or via a USB 2.0 connection. An optional 160GB Personal Media Drive costs $140 (about $40 more than you'd pay for an ordinary external hard drive).

The m7690y earned a mark of 109 on our WorldBench 5 tests, the second highest score among our cheap PCs. Unfortunately, its graphics performance was subpar, making the system (as configured, with an nVidia GeForce 7300LE graphics card bearing 128MB of video memory) a poor choice if you plan to use your PC for gaming.

The case's interior has no room for a second internal hard drive, and it includes just one open externally accessible drive bay. Our test system came with a 200GB hard drive, which will fill up fast as you record TV and share the drive with other content and data.

The monitor accompanying our system--HP's 19-inch f1905e LCD--had a clear, bright screen, and produced good color and smooth movement during DVD playback. We found it easy to adjust the height and angle of the monitor-details you rarely see on monitors paired with low-cost PCs.

HP says that the m7960y is Vista-capable, and the company offers Vista upgrade information on its site.

For the price, the m7960y is an attractive package. Though it lands at the top end of the cheap PCs price scale, its features justify the difference in cost

Richard Baguley

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At a Glance
  • PCWorld Rating

    Media-centric system performed very well for a value PC; with its TV tuner, it could replace your living-room DVR.

    Pros

    • Includes TV tuner; 19-inch LCD screen
    • DVD drive can write labels to discs

    Cons

    • No room for extra internal hard drive
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