Our Picks

Media Gear:

Television: Optoma HD81. Top of the line in its price range spring of 2007, with DarkChip 3, 1080p resolution, and it's own external scaler. Several users have had intermittent problems, however this one has been running rock solid, only twice has it shut itself down for no reason. Nice and bright, great picture, and newer model is reportedly even better!

Cable/Satellite receivers: If you have cable, get a TiVo, spare no expense. If you have satellite, then you're out of luck. The HR20/HR21 from DirecTV is shaping up to be a decent receiver. I have two, one's been upgraded with a 2TB eSATA RAID box from Cavalry. If you decide to get the same eSATA setup, make sure it's 2TB with two 1TB drives (they also sell a 2TB setup with four 500GB drives) and that it has an eSATA port (they currently sell a model with just USB, and another with eSATA and USB).

Audio Receiver: Yamaha HTR-6060. 7.1 setup, decent price, works great.

IR distribution: Hot-Link Pro or Hot-Link XL. Currently using a Hot-Link Pro X12 because I needed more than six emitters, just wish they had a Hot-Link XL X12 (the XL only comes with six emitters). You can expand it, but it was cheaper for me to go with the X12 with 12 emitters and buy a separate cable to extend the ir receiver. It is working flawlessly. Previously I was using a "Next Generation Remote Control Extender." It's rather ingenious, you replace one of your remote batteries with a much smaller battery plus transmitter. Unfortunately it was picky about where it picked up, and the battery needed constant charging.

Game System: I have a PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, Nintendo Wii, Xbox, and PlayStation 2. I say just buy them all, or if on a budget buy whichever one has the games you like the most.

Audio/Video switches: I got a 4x1 HDMI switcher from Monoprice.com, works just fine for me. Also bought a component switcher from them, no complaints at all.


Phone: iPhone or a BlackBerry Curve. My wife wanted an iPhone, I needed a phone that could use T-Mobile's Hotspot@Home (which the Curve could handle). Ended up with an iPhone for her, and a plain Nokia for me.

Camera: Pentax K10D. Takes great pictures, good enough for a point-and-shooter, even better for a serious amateur. A newer model is out now though.

Computer Hardware:

Printer: Epson R1800. Long-lasting pigment-based ink. If you don't need to print 13" prints, the R800 is basically the same printer but prints 8.5" wide. For all non-photo stuff, I just use a plain laser printer, currently a Brother HL-1440 (several years old).