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Enspire has come up with a cracking PVR / media centre (AVR-200) for the money.

Having undergone a name change from Emagen to Enspire, the AVR-200 was one of the first products under the new moniker from this computer manufacturer. With the imminent arrival of Intel’s ViiV, media center PCs are set to become the revolution that was promised five years ago. And its entry level units such as the AVR-200 which will help make this upheaval possible.

The unit is based on a hi-fi form factor, and therefore fits well into most hi-fi systems. The fascia is quite minimal, with a blacked out panel which hides the IR receiver, a bright blue power button, and a discrete flap concealing the DVD drive and front connections.

Considering the price, and the fact the system contains dual HD tuners, the other internals are fairly decent with a GeForce 6200, 16x DVD, 512MB RAM and 200GB drive. Onboard sound only, as well.

The only missed opportunity here is the use of a cheaper Antec power supply and stock cooling fan for the AMD processor. This means that once the heat ramps up, so does the noise. We got noise levels of 60db from the very front of the unit at full bore, which is very loud for a home theatre component.

 Performance was otherwise excellent, and having dual tuners with the Ice program guide is something every PVR should have. This machine will also do games and web surfing well.

The good thing about buying a PVR from a computer vendor is that you can choose the specifications you want, and though you will pay extra for quieter components, in this case, the extra 100 bucks for Zalman cooling would be well worth it. So, that said, if you’re looking for a low-cost entry into the world of Media Center, the AVR-200 is a good choice.


Click to enlarge

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Enspire AVR-200 | $1699 |
For: Attractive; good value for money; dual tuners.
Against: Noisy; no display.
Verdict: A slimline PVR/media centre that should find itself at home with many budding home theatre aficionados.

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