updated 09:20 am EDT, Fri September 22, 2006
The special designs of home theater PCs virtually dictates that they receive processor upgrades such as the Core 2 Duo later than more conventional desktops. In the case of computer builder Envive, however, the delay has resulted in two particularly well-equipped HTPC systems. First to be released is the E-Center Micro X (pictured), a compact system much in the same style as the Mac mini. Designed for relatively basic home theater needs, the Micro X is still capable with a 1.66GHz mobile Core 2 Duo chip, DVD-RW drive, 80GB hard disk, and a built-in IR receiver that interfaces with an included Media Center remote. DVI and S-Video out are also included. For more advanced users, the E-Center Pro adopts the shape of a home audio receiver and offers an impressive range of features. In what may be a first for home theater PCs, the Pro model will ship with two ATSC and two NTSC tuners, letting owners record at least two shows at once regardless of whether they are over-the-air HDTV or analog signals. A 500GB hard drive is standard and the system will support up to six drives total. Options for high-end users are Blu-Ray or HD DVD drives as well as HDMI output. The Micro X is available immediately for $993; Envive is taking pre-orders for the Pro at $2499 and will ship in late 2006, but warns users that the price is a deposit and depends on final specifications. A photo of the latter model is available after the jump.