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Media Hardware Technology

What an $18,000 Home Theater Looks Like 107

Posted by ScuttleMonkey
from the i'll-take-two dept.
kgagne writes "Computerworld has a blog with video about an $18,000 home theater system that Intel set up at Storage Networking World in order to promote their new home server system. But what's really cool about this set up is that the server was connected to a 24" iMac, an Apple TV, an Xbox 360, a Wii, an iPod Touch, a Nokia N810 mobile Internet tablet, various cameras and a 15" wireless digital picture frame. The server was streaming all the various feeds to a top-of-the-line Pioneer Elite 50" plasma TV. The Intel reps said the high-definition movie downloads, which could be browsed through a menu, were as high quality as those from a Pioneer Elite Blu-ray player they had set up."
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What an $18,000 Home Theater Looks Like

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  • A 103+ inch plasma, not that 50 inch. Honestly, after seeing a 103 inch plasma regularly, a 50 inch plasma seems tiny. :p

    Other than that, I approve, nice setup.
    • Other than that, I approve, nice setup.

      How about a subwoofer? Or surround sound? Seriously, that setup and only stereo speakers. I can barely tell the difference between 720p and 1080p, but I sure as hell can tell the difference between 2.0 and 5.1

      • by Thalagyrt (851883)
        Good point, I didn't notice that. Also, the 100+ inch plasma would knock the price up to around $100,000 or so instead of $18,000.
        • by Jeff DeMaagd (2015) on Friday April 11, 2008 @06:24PM (#23041938) Homepage Journal
          The large plasma may get the best picture quality possible, the 50" is probably an incredibly fine unit too. One can get big picture on a lower budget with a projector. It's not for everyone, but a projector that's half the cost of that Kuro can throw a 150" image in full 1080p, with a picture quality that's good enough that I really don't care that I don't have a plasma.

          I'd do away with the Monster products (speakers and "voltage stabilizers") in that list too. I just don't like seeing money spent on snake oil manufacturers.
          • by Thalagyrt (851883) on Friday April 11, 2008 @06:31PM (#23042002)
            I've got a 50" in my apartment, parents own one of the 103" Panasonic units... It's fairly insane and in my opinion a total waste of money, but then again, he can afford it.

            Also, the Monster power filters are actually very good units, I've taken a multimeter to them and done some tests. However, everything else that comes out of that company is total snake oil.

            Anyone who buys a $150 AES/ABU cable when any $5 XLR cable will do the job perfectly fine is an idiot. Gold plated connectors? Sorry bud, but your connectors on your gear are most likely tin or copper, and the gold plating actually decreases conductivity... Gotta love the things "audiophiles" do that electrical/audio engineers laugh at. :p

            Side note, since I'm a guitarist, I also think tube amps are entirely overrated, I can do just about anything with my Vetta that someone can do with (x brand here) tube amp.

            Also, good point on the projector, the only problem is during daytime if you have windows open you can't really see much, but aside from that it is a cheaper alternative that's equally good.
            • by geekoid (135745)
              "and the gold plating actually decreases conductivity" no it doesn't. It doesn't add any either.
              IN order to lower it, it would have to be worse then the actual connection loss.

              Projectors are not as good. I was looking at the difference just last weak end. The plasma was crisper, and the details were sharper.

              "the Monster power filters are actually very good units, "
              that may be true, I;ll take your word for it, but are they better then other companies products? Personally, because of there snake oil marketing
              • "and the gold plating actually decreases conductivity" no it doesn't. It doesn't add any either.

                The point of gold plating is mostly corrosion. In most cases it's a non-issue.

                Projectors are not as good. I was looking at the difference just last weak end. The plasma was crisper, and the details were sharper.

                I saw one of those 100" plasma units, and while it's an impressive display, I thought a projector image was close enough in favourable lighting conditions. Also the 90.000 price tag scared me off.

                the

                • by Enleth (947766)

                  "and the gold plating actually decreases conductivity" no it doesn't. It doesn't add any either.

                  The point of gold plating is mostly corrosion. In most cases it's a non-issue.

                  Well, it is an issue. The electronegativity difference between gold and tin is 0.58, between gold and copper about 0.64. That's enough to form a parasitic cell, given enough humidity, corroding the tin or copper side of the connection. And since it's usually the $100-bazillion plasma side, not the cable side, well, you're screwed. By the very problem a gold cable was meant to prevent, according to the sales rep who insisted on buying them. Well, yeah, the cable is fine, because gold is corrosion-resistant,

              • by Thalagyrt (851883)
                I personally prefer plasmas for the exact reason you specified. And yea, a scope would be better. Once I can afford a good one I'll give it a go. :p

                My reason for using the power filter is for guitar equipment and studio monitoring/recording, it does a great job of killing out any 60 Hz hum that becomes pretty apparent with high gain circuits. For a home theater, meh.
              • by jgoemat (565882)

                "and the gold plating actually decreases conductivity" no it doesn't. It doesn't add any either. IN order to lower it, it would have to be worse then the actual connection loss.
                It doesn't add conductivity naturally, but it also doesn't corrode like many metals do in an oxygen atmosphere.
              • Which isn't to deride projectors, ... but side by side plasma was jaw dropping.

                If picture quality was your only consideration, then, the plasma is definitely superior. But when you figure in the cost, installation considerations, portability, I think that generally sways the consideration to a front projector.
              • The gold actually will change conductivity. It has a slightly lower conductivity than copper. As another poster points out, the reason gold is used is because it doesn't generate a high-resistivity oxide on its surface and ultimately degrade the electrical connection.

                For those commenting about silver, it definitely does increase conductivity and is frequently plated on radio frequency conductors because at high frequencies, most of the current flows on and near the surface of the conductors. A silver pla
            • by inviolet (797804)

              Also, the Monster power filters are actually very good units, I've taken a multimeter to them and done some tests. However, everything else that comes out of that company is total snake oil.

              What qualities of a power filter can be assessed with a multimeter?

              A scope, maybe. But a multimeter?

              • Not just a scope but a way to inject noise and spikes into either side of the filter to see how it does at filtering what's coming in as well as what's leaking out.

                With a multimeter, I think about all you can say is that input is connected to output by measuring continuity. Regular needle movements have a fair amount of damping just by inertia of the needle and digital meters have damping by the nature of how they do the measurements.

                I've also seen far too many head to head reviews that show most hous
                • by Thalagyrt (851883)
                  There's only one place I use more expensive (Planet Waves) cables is from my guitar to my guitar amp.

                  Also see above post about me having a retard moment with the whole multimeter thing. ;P
              • by Thalagyrt (851883)
                Yea, retard moment on my part. Already been pointed out. :p
            • Also, good point on the projector, the only problem is during daytime if you have windows open you can't really see much, but aside from that it is a cheaper alternative that's equally good.

              Which is why I said it's not for everyone. But a good home theater room has to have good light control anyway. You don't want glare being reflected from the screen if you have a plasma.
            • by hcdejong (561314)

              Gold plated connectors? Sorry bud, but your connectors on your gear are most likely tin or copper, and the gold plating actually decreases conductivity...

              Gold is used for two reasons.
              1. Corrosion resistance. Not an issue for the first few years, but I've seen older plugs corrode significantly.
              2. Gold is soft, which means it will deform around e.g. scratches on the connector it mates to. This means the contact area is larger than on non-plated connectors, reducing resistance. So even when the mating connector isn't goldplated, it makes sense to use s goldplated connector.

        • Meh... go for a 1080p projector. 10 times cheaper with better display.
      • by KillerBob (217953)
        I have a 42" 1080p that I watch from about 3m away, (LG 42LB5D) and I can tell you that there's a pretty big difference between 720p and 1080p images. Very noticeable.

        There's two main factors in that, though... the size of the screen, and how far away I am. The subjective picture quality boils down to the relative size of the pixels on screen, and there's exactly two solutions: sit further away from the TV, or get a higher resolution display.

        I'm not saying that a decent sound setup is a waste of money. I've
    • by mrmeval (662166)
      There's a local custom home theater company that *starts* at $25,000, anything less isn't worth their time.
      • by Thalagyrt (851883)
        We've got one of those around here... They managed to use all of the HDMI ports on the 103 incher, and wanted $1000 to hook up a friggin Wii. That was a "No thanks, we'll just play on a different TV" moment.
        • by mrmeval (662166)

          You can't even buy a remote from this company unless you're a customer. This company usually does the install when the house is being built. It was $525,000 for the theater room on the biggest and most expensive projectthey'd ever done. It looked like a victorian era theater. The remote system was 10k. They had a satellite 'cable company in a box' system as well that did 40 independent channels. The list goes on and on.

          Just insane.

          I was there to do warranty work on one TV. Long time ago.
  • Uh...can I get it without the "AppleTV"? Seriously, if I won this $18K rig as a prize, that's the piece I'd leave unopened on the curb. (I'd eBay the iMac and use the cash to buy something cooler too.)
    • by Sciros (986030)

      (I'd eBay the iMac and use the cash to buy something cooler too.)
      Impossible, because there is NOTHING cooler.

      Did you see the new commercial with the PC doing yoga, his urdhva mukha svanasana was total rubbish! Mac wins again.
  • by eln (21727) on Friday April 11, 2008 @06:07PM (#23041768) Homepage
    These sorts of stories make me so mad. Why can't people spend this money on the starving people of Africa instead of blowing it on this nonsense?

    Seriously folks, you could buy decent home theatre systems for lots of poor starving African children for the cost of this one system. Won't somebody think of the children?
    • Well if those lazy bastards in Africa would get off their asses and sell $18,000 systems to us greedy Americans then they would have plenty to eat now wouldn't they?

      As a side benefit we would have another person to blame our failing economy on, Hooray!
    • Because the most likely outcome is that the African government will get the money instead of the people who need it and will spend it on their military instead of sorting out their starving and aids afflicted nation.
  • $20k (Score:5, Funny)

    by JBHarris (890771) <bharrisNO@SPAMisf.com> on Friday April 11, 2008 @06:15PM (#23041846)
    The tabulation comes up closer to $20k. From the article:

    Here's a tabulation of the equipment:
    (1) Pioneer 50" 1080p KURO Flat Panel HDTV: $5,000
    (2) Series Pro Power AVS 2000 Automatic Voltage Stabilizers: $4,400
    (2) Intel Entry Storage System SS4200-E home NAS servers: $700 (without disk drives)
    (1) Pioneer BDP-95FD Blu-ray Disc player: $999
    (1) 24" iMac: $2,249
    (1) Apple TV: $329
    (1) Xbox 360 console: $349
    (1) Nintendo Wii console: $250
    (1) Apple iPod Touch: $399
    (1) Nokia N810 Mobile Internet Tablet: $500
    (1) Spectrum Digital 15" wireless photo frame: $357
    (1) Pioneer Elite VSX 94TXH AV Receiver: $1,800
    (2) Monster THX Tower Speakers 200: $1,600
    Total price: $18,932
    That is without drives in the server, and without any games or movies or anything else that makes the home theater worth something.

    Personally, I'd rather have the $400 Home Theater in a Box from Circuit City and $17,600 in cash in a briefcase sitting in front of it...That will certainly impress your friends.

    Brad
  • by Fallen Kell (165468) on Friday April 11, 2008 @06:18PM (#23041890)
    I mean, I have $8k in speakers/subs alone and that doesn't include the $2500 in amps.

    Heck, I think I have over $21k in my setup, and that is just on the speakers, TV, stand, audio rack, DVD player, audio/video pre-processor, amplifiers, HTPC/DVR, and data server. Now grant it I have something like 7TB of storage now in that setup, and over 3000W of speaker/subs, but I don't even have close to my dream theater, which includes at least 2 rows of seating, and room audio treatments...
  • by SparkleMotion88 (1013083) on Friday April 11, 2008 @06:19PM (#23041896)
    Ripoff. These days you can get an entire home for $18,000.
    • by tepples (727027)

      These days you can get an entire home for $18,000.
      On land that costs ten times that, right?
    • by antdude (79039)
      Where in United States?
      • Rural Iowa.

        Wrecked tiny house on tiny lot far from everything.

      • I'm in Houston, so I checked HAR.com and looked up single-family detached homes for under $20K. I find 30 houses with their lots listed for sale at $18,000 or less. Remove the 6 error listings that show as priced for $1 and that leave 24 houses ranging from $7499 to $18000. Some are in depressed areas. Some are 50+ miles out of town or out in the middle of nowhere. Still, the fact is that it's possible.
    • by Nimey (114278)
      That's what my parents paid for their house.

      In 1983.
  • by joeflies (529536) on Friday April 11, 2008 @06:21PM (#23041910)
    "taste". Maybe geeking out is great fun for personal use, but the family probably doesn't want the front room looking like a NASA control center.
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by geekoid (135745)
      Get a new family!
      My family would totally dig the front room looking like a NASA control center.
      Unfortunately They would expect it to actually control spaceship, and it wouldn't do that..well wait a minute, if I just ...

    • by steelfood (895457)

      Error: Line 1: Symbol 'family' not recognized in this context.
      Error: Line 1: Operator 'basement' expected in front of operand 'room'.
      Compiler exiting with errors.
  • $1000 for a Blu-Ray player? Pick up a PS3 for $399. $400 on an iPod? Go get a friggin $50-$99 MP3 player.

    I'm not sure what that $4000 power supply thing is -- it probably serves a purpose, though it doesn't factor into my home theatre, so it can't be all that crucial. Anyone want to shed some light on it for me?

    • Its made by montster. So its a premium UPS, with about a 80% markup in price (or 800%). But if you ask someone at best buy, they'll insist it will make everything sound "high def" And it probably doesn't include the Monster premium titanium power cables to plug into the equipment.
      • by rob1980 (941751)
        I was just about to comment on that too. Anything Monster makes is likely to be found much cheaper and of comparable quality through another manufacturer, if it's even worth purchasing in the first place. Just because the rig cost $18,000 doesn't mean it's worth $18,000.
        • I was just about to comment on that too. Anything Monster makes is likely to be found much cheaper and of comparable quality through another manufacturer, if it's even worth purchasing in the first place

          Monster has become the Bose of the 21st century. They sell decent gear but it is way overpriced... and Monster went one smarter by selling cables. The margins on those so-called high end power cables or their speaker cables must be unbelievable.

          before this idiotic "if it costs less than $1000 it must

  • PS3? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by HalAtWork (926717) on Friday April 11, 2008 @06:37PM (#23042050)
    So where's the PlayStation 3? It's even better than the Blu-Ray player they have listed, and besides that, why include the other consoles but leave out the PS3?
  • Bah (Score:3, Interesting)

    by JMZero (449047) on Friday April 11, 2008 @06:50PM (#23042140) Homepage
    I wouldn't call this a home theater - and I don't think it's intended to be one. It's a technology showcase / bunch of useless crap. Besides that, how could you call it a "theater" with such a tiny screen?

    Here's how I'd spend $18000:

    1. Epson Powerlite 1080UB (projector) = $3000
    2. Pair of Martin Logan Quest front speakers = $10000
    3. Decent amp = $2000
    4. Random center/rear channel speakers = $800
    5. PS3 = $400
    6. Decent 100" 16:9 screen = $500
    7. Random subwoofer = $400

    Now you're set up to watch movies, play games, listen to music, whatever - and your friends won't laugh at your pitiful 50" plasma.

    And if you don't have $18000, substitute in a few cheaper alternatives and you can do a very decent theater for $3000 and still have a setup people will like more than the one in this article.
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by Jah-Wren Ryel (80510)

      2. Pair of Martin Logan Quest front speakers = $10000
      3. Decent amp = $2000
      4. Random center/rear channel speakers = $800

      As long as your center and surrounds don't match your mains, your movie listening experience is going to be sub-par. Any sound that pans from one speaker to another is going to sound weird because of the difference in timbre between the originating speaker and the destination speaker. For example, when a tank rolls across the screen it will sound like a real tank when it enters stage right, then turn into a little toy, mickey-mouse tank, as it traverses the screen and then exits stage left again as a rea

      • by Froobly (206960)
        Do you honestly expect that at $800, his surround speakers are going to be noticeably bad? The difference between a $100 speaker and a $1000, let alone a $5000 speaker is pretty subtle, and won't come across when you're listening to crunches and explosions. The front speakers are for listening to music, where you might actually be able to tell the difference.
        • On their own, no they'll sound amazing. The difference between those and any other type of speaker is very noticable though as every speaker has a different warmth and style of sound to it. It may take an audiophile to notice it, but if you're spending 18k on a setup you're quite likely to be one..

          You want preferably the same speakers all round, failing that the same type of driver in every speaker. If you're going to have several different types of speaker you need to put them in every channel to make su
      • by JMZero (449047)
        I see what you're saying - but in practice I don't find it's much of a problem (the setup I mention is pretty much the same as I have set up now, which is why my I mention old ML models rather than whatever they have going now.. I'm also using an LCD until I finish the dedicated room in my new house).

        I guess I'm not really much of an audiophile when it comes to movies. As long as you have sufficient power, a subwoofer, and surround, I don't notice too much else.

        Where I do notice quality is in music - and h
    • by vux984 (928602)
      Here's how I'd spend $18000:

      1. Epson Powerlite 1080UB (projector) = $3000
      2. Pair of Martin Logan Quest front speakers = $10000
      3. Decent amp = $2000
      4. Random center/rear channel speakers = $800
      5. PS3 = $400
      6. Decent 100" 16:9 screen = $500
      7. Random subwoofer = $400

      Overall not bad, but the front speakers are by any reasonable measure stupid overkill, IMO.

      I'd cut the speakers down by half or even more, and free up at least $5-6000. And then use the funds to add a Wii, upgrade the PS3, and get accessories for b
    • by steelfood (895457)
      You'll still need a decent receiver, a machine to stream your movies and music from (besides the PS3), and you'll probably want a good power line conditioner. Likely, you might also want a pre-amp with the amp.

      The receiver and computer alone will set you back a thousand or two...
  • Funny error in video (Score:3, Informative)

    by Technician (215283) on Friday April 11, 2008 @06:58PM (#23042222)
    I just watched the video and laughed. The presenter needs to understand RAID before explaining how it works. Do you see the problem with the following points?

    System will hold up to 4 1 Tetrabyte drive in a RAID array.
    With 4 1 Tetra byte SATA drives it will store 4 Tetra bytes of data.
    If a drive fails, it can be replaced without losing data as it will rebuild the lost drive automatically.

    Hats of to Intel for that one. I wish my RAID could do that.
  • $18,000? (Score:5, Funny)

    by hee gozer (1261036) on Friday April 11, 2008 @06:59PM (#23042232)
    Pfft, only 12 Euros, that's pocket money!
  • This is going to sound like flamebait, but from that video it looks kinda like someone at Intel's consumer division saw one of the NAS devices in their server room.

  • FFS $4400 on "Voltage stabalizer" and only $1600 on speakers!? FFS people if your gonna waste money don't do it on the boogie man. Spending almost 3 times as much on a power bar as you do on the A in the A/V...

    [Penny-arcade comic about the power/voltage cooties would go here if their archives weren't down right now]
  • by debrain (29228)
    could use some boosting ... say, Martin Logans [martinlogan.com].
  • It's not a home theater system. It is a whole bunch of devices that can all be fed by a server, that might be found throughout one's house. The point is to demo an expensive-for-what-you-get intel home server.
  • Wii? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by aarku (151823) on Friday April 11, 2008 @07:36PM (#23042552) Journal
    Did I miss it, but how exactly is the Wii connecting to the server? I never saw any ability like that in my Wii, unless it's just going through the web browser.
  • Why on earth would you spend 3x as much on power conditioning than you do on speakers? They made some very odd decisions; 1/3rd this much money will get you a home theater that trumps it in terms of quality (though not features).
    • by Animats (122034)

      Why do they need "power conditioning" at all? Every unit specified, with the possible exception of the "Receiver"'s amplifier section, has a switching power supply, and should be robust in the face of spikes and sags.

  • My home theatre system is a 15" iMac DV, an Internet radio and an old zonked-out TV hooked up to a digibox.
    I think the whole thing comes to around £199. That would double if I decided to treat myself to an iPod.
  • What a waste of money. For that kind of coin you could actually get out of the house, travel, see the world, & live a little (or a lot) ...maybe even get laid.

    Then, save some starving orphans.

    P.S. "The things you own, they end up owning you".
    - Tyler Durden
    • Agreed. I'd mod this up if I had points. Our over the top obsession with having things and things and things is going to be our downfall.
  • by 4g1vn (840279)
    They forgot the switch to connect all those "Ethernet" devices from the equipment list.

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