Home Theater Review


Russound Smart Media Console SMC-45 Media Center PC Reviewed

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russound_media_center_pc.jpgRussound offers high-end media center PCs sold through custom-retail channels.  The company's Smart Media Console series of media center PCs includes six versions, with different storage/processing specs and tuning options.  The SMC-45 ($7,499) is one of the mid-level machines, sporting a still-generous 1TB hard drive, a DVD/CD burner and dual CableCARD/Clear-QAM tuners, with DVR functionality and the ability to record two premium HD channels simultaneously.  If you are not a cable subscriber, the SMC-40 has the same specs as the SMC-45, but offers dual NTSC/ATSC tuners to tune over-the-air signals.  The SMC-45 doesn't include a Blu-ray player, but it does offer a nice assortment of video output options: HDMI, DVI, component, S-video and composite video.  Running the Windows Vista Ultimate operating system, the SMC-45 sports a 2.4GHz Intel Core 2 Duo processor with 2GB DDR2 SDRAM and uses the Nvidia GeForce 8500GT graphics card.  On the audio side, the SMC-45 uses an Intel On Board sound card, with optical digital audio and 7.1-channel analog audio outputs.

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As with other Windows Media Center PCs, the SMC-45 provides a simple user interface through which you can access and import music, photos and movies.  This model has a generous assortment of peripheral connections, including eight USB ports (only two are 2.0; the rest are 1.1), two FireWire ports and a 28-in-1 card reader.  The unit supports gigabit Ethernet via the back-panel RJ-45 port, but it does not have built-in Wi-Fi.  An RF remote and a wireless RF keyboard are included.

Russound is an Exceptional Innovation partner and develops products that are compatible with EI's Life/ware home automation software, which is designed to run on a Windows Media Center PC.  A Russound dealer can load the Life/ware software onto the SMC-45 and set up the system to control whole-house A/V and automation products via the Windows Vista user interface.  Consequently, the SMC-45 features some nice control options, with two RS-232 and 12-volt trigger ports, as well as one IR input and two IR outputs. 

Read Page 2 for The High Points, Low Points and Conclusion

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