I said a few weeks ago that Id report back with costs on my attempts to wean myself of my total dependence on Audiolab. Im still using my AV192R but I have a new source, so Until youve seen a decent HTPC in action, it is hard to comprehend just how good the user experience can be. Even some of the free software is amazing in what it does to make life so easy. I think however, that many TAG owners will be more interested in how the stuff performs. Ill get to that in a paragraph or two. Firstly, you have to allow for the fact that Im still learning this system. Im using the wireless keyboard and mouse to control it like a conventional PC. Once you get the hang of a mouse that lets you move the cursor by waving it in the air, control really starts. OK, the mouse works on hard surfaces too but where is the fun in that? Xlobby provides an intuitive front end that allows you to scroll through pages of DVD cover images. Click on it and you get a page of notes about the film. Click the Play lozenge and TheaterTek 2 takes over as the player. TheaterTek 2 has pages of hot keys: V brings up the ability to adjust the about 6 different image quality parameters. Hop along the task bar and you can select from the audio options available for the file. S lets you toggle subtitles. Then there is the aspect ratio menu with its own little GUI to let you set default adjustments for each standard aspect ratio (so it fills the screen properly) or you can store them on a per-DVD basis. Are you getting a picture of phenomenal flexibility if you want to tinker? So how does it perform? Weve set it up to put RGB direct to the projector and scaled it to match the DLP chip. Image quality is great but it does definitely show the limits of earlier chips on a TFT screen with much higher resolution, every pixel was distinct. I needed to tinker a little to make the colours look the same as output from the FLR for no other reason than that I prefer the slightly richer colours than the default setting of the video card. OK, I miss the TAGs OSD by doing this but I have another way of getting TAG output. Sound quality is definitely impressive. Ive yet to try an audience on blind testing against my FLR but, frankly, Id be very surprised if I didnt get a spread of opinions across both. The flexibility means that cuing the same piece on this and the FLR is actually very easy. Yes I have tried it and they do sound different but no less acceptable. Itll take more listening before I make up my mind, so dont start queuing for my FLR just yet. One of the reasons for buying was to reduce the shelf space taken up by DVDs. Putting the DVDs to disk is easy. DVD Profiler will go out onto the net and grab the details and artwork for storage in a database on the hard disk. Ive only got 300GB of disk in the PC but there is a gigabit link to a NAS up stairs for the rest. So what did I spend? Well, a bit less than £3.5, which is a lot for a PC. To put this in context: by sourcing parts at some of the keenest prices on the web I was up for about £2.5K anyway. When you consider that it doesnt have amps or anywhere near the storage of the Chord, it quickly becomes clear why the Chord costs over £10K. I wanted a particular case with bays for a DVD and capacity for a Blu Ray/HD DVD capability in the future. I wanted a decent TV tuner and the ability to pull HDTV content when Sky makes it available. A web site for constructors made it clear that the case presented considerable potential for learning opportunities. My attempts to build a similar software arrangement on my NAS make it clear there is a lot of configuring to do. Add to this the fact that Phil delivered the system, configured it and showed me the basics of using it. (Ive never gotten over the fact that Udo didnt come and personally install my AV32R SP). Frankly, its probably the best spend Ive made in a very long time. I would not be at all surprised to see the price of this offering jump by £500 or more before very long.