Alienware DHS 5-Series Media Center

Alienware DHS 5 Front

Alienware DHS 5 Front View

Photo Courtesy Alienware

If you see a small, squat black alien in your living room, don?t fear. It?s probably just Alienware?s new DHS 5 media center system. It doesn?t have designs on the world, just your living room.

Shaped much more like a device which fits into your home entertainment center than a computer, the DHS 5 is Alienware?s latest entry in their DHS series of digital home systems. Designed with convergence in mind, this 17? x 18? x 5.9? aluminum, black anodized finish rectangular machine has come looking to kick your VCR, DVD, PVR and various other three letter combos to the curb.

At the heart of this new media center are three cutting edge items which Alienware feels gives the DHS 5 the upper edge: DISCover console technology, Windows XP Media Center 2005 and AMD64 processor technology.

The DISCover console technology, according to Alienware, allows DHS 5 owners the ability to automate PC game play and ?blur the line between gaming consoles and PCs.? This is done when inserting the game?s CD the first time, which prompts the DHS 5 to automatically install and optimize the title if it is one of a growing number in a specialized online database. The next time the game CD is put in, the game automatically starts.

At the heart of the software side of the system is Windows XP Media Center 2005. The latest in the Media Center Edition of XP, the 2005 version offers ?dual tuner support, better navigation and a more integrated, remote driven environment.?

Several features related to this version of Windows make the Alienware DHS 5 a potential living room king.  In the realm of Tivo, the DHS 5 allows users to schedule and record television programming up to 14 days in advance.  Two basic tuners can be added, allowing one channel to be watched while another is being recorded. Support is enabled for recording and playback of High Definition television with the addition of a third Over-the-Air HD tuner. Pause, play and rewind features are also offered.

Alienware DHS 5 Back View

Alienware DHS 5 Rear View

Photo Courtesy of Alienware

Other Windows XP Media Center 2005 features supported on the DHS 5 include storage and display of digital photos with a custom, musical slideshow option and digital recording and transfer of FM broadcasts.

For storage options of all of those videos, MP3s and digital photos, Alienware offers up two choices. One, your standard hard drive, ranges in size from an 80GB Seagate to an 800GB Hitachi. The other involves the use of RAID (Redundant Array of Inexpensive Disks) technology, which essentially combines the storage capacity of two separate hard drives into one.

The DHS 5 offers up a lot externally. Behind a drop down panel is an 8-in-1 USB 2.0 internal media reader which offers support for nearly every type of portable media card. There are also USB 2.0, FireWire 400, Stereo In, Stereo Out and other ports (including video) for connectivity to other devices. Alienware has also added an ?InfoPanel?, which displays the command and control options currently being used.

Alienware DHS 5 Front Bay Open

Alienware DHS 5 Front View With Bay Door Open

Photo Courtesy of Alienware

Graphics support for the DHS 5 comes from high end ATI cards like the RADEON X800Pro. The DHS 5, for those who want lots of memory, is configured to handle up to 4GB of SDRAM system memory via four DDR DIMM sockets. All of this is cooled with an ultra quiet AMD architecture.

Other features of the DHS 5 (some optional) include CD/DVD write and record, Ethernet and wireless support, digital 5.1 surround sound support, an ergonomic remote control, and sharing of archived content with other TVs in the house via a Windows Media Center Extender.