It all started innocently enough -- I'd gotten a new xbox360/kinect unit as a xmas gift but I was out of HDMI ports on my 5 year old A/V unit (it had the most HDMI ports you could get at the time: 2). After switching HDMI cables with other devices I realized I needed a new more capable home theater A/V unit. I punched up Denon's US site and found a similarly priced (about $700) and named model as my last unit now boasted 6 HDMI input slots. I was in HDMI port heaven.
It was at that moment that I decided to upgrade everything in my A/V cabinet, with an eye towards the latest and greatest. My goals were simple: I wanted to be able to play any video from any source I could possibly want on my TV. Funny YouTube clip I found on my desktop? British broadcast-only TV show not destined for the US shores for another year? Flip video from my daughter's ballet recital? Show off a movie I just shot on my iPhone?
From the new A/V unit, I fired up Amazon.com and ordered up a slew of devices. The final tally is below and the absolute mess of seven remote controls shown above is what controls it all. I'll post in-depth reviews of each device over the next week.
Denon AVR-2311CI - I was looking for two basic things: tons of HDMI inputs and a price tag under a grand. It delivered on both points.
2nd generation AppleTV - I replaced the first generation (hacked) AppleTV just to get AirPlay, so I could pull up any movie or photo off my iPhone or iPad for everyone to view in the living room.
Boxee box (Full Review here on PVRblog) - I was hesitant to try a Boxee box after playing with the software on my 1st generation AppleTV. It wasn't until a friend gave a glowing review and mentioned how flexible it was that I gave it a try.
Sony Blu-ray player with GoogleTV (Full Review here on PVRblog) - I ditched my PS3 as a movie player and needed a Blu-ray device and thought I might as well test out GoogleTV. So far it has seen limited use and I would say the appeal is limited, but it is the only device I have that reliably plays any online flash video I've thrown at it.
TiVo Premiere Elite - I just recently replaced my Premiere unit with a new Elite and so far it has been stellar. Two terabytes of storage and four tuners sounds like overkill but it means you'll never run short of shows to tape or space to hold them.
Xbox 360 - After spending years designing interfaces for websites I never thought I'd say I loved a user interface designed by Microsoft, but the xbox experience is fantastic and my family uses it as an entertainment device much more than I thought we would. Netflix is great, ESPN is killer, and the HD blockbuster movies available for download are awesome.
Samsung C8000 50" 1080p Plasma - I bought this TV simply because it was the best looking device to watch movies on. I looked at nearly a dozen options but when I saw the latest and greatest side by side, the black levels on this plasma TV were incredible and I've been a happy owner ever since.
I've now lived with this setup for about 8 months and though it requires too many remote controls and is difficult to tell friends and family how to operate all the devices (a Harmony remote wouldn't work with some of the bluetooth remotes here), it is otherwise fantastic and fulfills my hope of watching any video I want from any source on my TV in the living room.